CHINA / DIPLOMACY
Summit for democracy an 'anti-China ideological clique'; US definition of 'authoritarianism' outdated
Published: Nov 24, 2021 11:13 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT



The Joe Biden administration, in a highly dangerous and provocative manner, is turning the so-called summit for democracy into yet another small-sized ideology-driven clique to contain China, and this surely won't fare well as the world is trying to work together in the post-pandemic era and needs solidarity more than ever rather than using the so-called values to instigate confrontation and divergence. 

Shortly after the US State Department released an official "participant list" to the "Summit for Democracy" on its website by listing the island of Taiwan among sovereign countries, which fully exposed that the true intention of the US is turning the summit into a platform to contain China, officials from the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs voiced strong opposition to such a reckless move.

Zhao Lijian, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, urged the US to stop setting up the platform for secessionists in the Taiwan island and advocating for them, as the US "will eventually get burned." 

From December 9 to 10, US President Biden will host a virtual summit for "leaders from government, civil society and the private sector," and some key themes include "defending against authoritarianism" and "promoting respect for human rights," according to a statement released on the website of the US State Department. 

US think tanks such as the Brookings Institute suggested that Biden's summit for democracy highlight the so-called civil liberties, which would draw a contrast to "single-party regimes" like China. Washington has also been confronting Beijing on human rights over the past few years, which serves as a political tool to slander China's policies on Xinjiang and Hong Kong-related affairs. American hawks even exploited the human rights issue by calling for a boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, echoing their own political agenda of suppressing China. 

Among the 110 participants to the summit, China and Russia were excluded, and some US allies like Singapore were not found on the list. This had sparked doubts about the nature of the summit: Is it an occasion to highlight democratic values or another setup to instigate new confrontation and divergence? 

Listing the island of Taiwan among sovereign countries shows the US is turning this so-called democracy-themed summit into another ideology-driven clique as part of its long-term strategy to confront and contain China, some observers said. 

By excluding countries like China, Russia and Singapore, which have already explored their own paths of development with stable societies, the US - a country with "concerning democratic declines" - hosting the summit would only be a slap in the face as its own definition of "democracy" and "authoritarianism" can't fit in a rapidly evolving world, according to the observers. 

US-defined democracy outdated

Holding the so-called democratic summits to divide groups by ideology standards has been the tactic played by the US since the Cold War era. The Biden administration has revived it from the ashes, attempting to tout and promote US standards of democracy globally and verify the loyalty of its allies as well, Zhu Ying, a professor on human rights and international laws from Southwest University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

"As the sunlight breaks up into different colors inside a water droplet, democracy cannot be in one single color or defined by one single country. The 'participant list' clearly demonstrates that the so-called summit for democracy is nothing but anti-democracy. It is politicizing democracy and it is all about geopolitics," Zhu said.

For example, Singapore, a country that has been regarded as the best example to merge Asian culture with the core of democracy in the Western concept, was not in the list.

"As a country being viewed as a bridge between the West and the East, Singapore has also been labeled an 'authoritarian state' by US-led West, which reflected how narrow-minded American democracy has become," Zhu said. 

The US itself was recently listed among "backsliding democracies" in a report released by the Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, the Washington Post reported on Monday. 

The study analyzed the situation in the US during the former president Donald Trump including his factually baseless questioning of the legitimacy of the 2020 election results, and also the shocking US Capitol riots, which also caused a spillover effect in other countries like Brazil, Mexico, Myanmar and Peru, according to the report. 

"The American concept excludes the right of other nations to have their own concepts of democracy," Victor Larin, an academician and principal researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

The US believes it has the exclusive right to decide what is good and what is bad. Everything is put on the head in the US. This is perverted democracy, not for normal people, diplomatically speaking, Larin said. He noted that as soon as the White House starts talking about democracy, new sanctions, military intervention and ideological sabotage could be anticipated. 

Prominent Chinese scholars said that some Western media and politicians relentlessly made an issue of China's efforts in strengthening "centralized, unified leadership" and accused China of becoming more "authoritarian," and this demonstrated they are wrong and they lack a basic understanding of China.

Centralization is not a concept of Chinese tradition, but a Western concept, Zheng Yongnian, a Chinese political scientist and political commentator, told the Global Times in a recent interview. 

All modern states are centralized, and in some aspects, the Western political systems are much more centralized, Zheng noted, hinting on the US. "Be it the presidential system or parliamentary system, after a Western leader comes to power, almost all members of the ruling team, including ambassadors, are nominated and appointed by the leader and will act around the leader's governing goals," he emphasized.

"All modern states are centralized, and in some aspects, the Western political systems are much more centralized," Zheng said. Be it the presidential system or parliamentary system, after a Western leader comes to power, almost all members of the ruling team, including ambassadors stationed overseas, are nominated and appointed by the leader and will act around the leader's governing goals, he emphasized.

This so-called summit for democracy, which had originally been designed as a meeting for a number of heads of state, turned into an ideology-driven event to instigate divergence. This will trigger a large-scale boycott, Lü Xiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

"Americans know they can't make a big scene if they focused on a very small circle, so they had to expand the scope of participants to other sectors like civil society. But no matter how hard they play the word game, it won't disguise their true intention of containing China with small cliques and interfere in China's internal affairs," Lü said. 

Determined response 



The US has long forgotten that the core of democracy is inclusiveness and openness, Chinese experts said. Democracy should center on people's willingness and suits each country's context. With the polarization of its society and fierce bipartisan confrontations, the US has gone astray further - to be more closed and become a "democracy dictatorship," said Zhu, the professor on human rights and international law. 

"For example, no matter how the democratic model in Singapore suits itself, how it works for economic development and domestic stability and is recognized by citizens in Singapore and praised by Asian and other countries, the US still sees it as an 'authoritarian state' for it has no rotation of parties," he said. 

Democracy is not a patent of the West, nor can it be defined by the West, Jiang Jinquan, director of the Policy Research Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, told a press conference on November 12 after the conclusion of the sixth plenary session of the CPC's 19th Central Committee. 

Some Western countries have shown a hollowing out of democracy, triggering dissatisfaction among their own people, but they are still trying to impose their democratic model on other countries, the Chinese official noted. "Color revolutions" in recent years have resulted in disasters to local people, which the people of the world have become increasingly aware of, Jiang said in response to a question on comparing China's whole-process people's democracy with Western democracy.

What the US has done proves that democracy is being used as an excuse by the US government to pursue its own strategic purpose by suppressing other countries and dividing the world, serving as its own tool of achieving hegemony, spokesperson Zhao Lijian told at a press conference on Wednesday.

"Such tactics of disguising democracy and pushing forward small cliques in instigating confrontation is another manifestation of the Cold War mentality, which will be widely doubted and rejected by the international community," he said. 

By using the name of democracy, the US is now seeking to advocate for secessionists on the island of Taiwan, which will only lead to powerful countermeasures from the Chinese government that will make secessionist forces "feel the pain," Lü said.  

Yu Jincui also contributed to the story 


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