- Democracy will not foster hegemony and division abroad while building democracy and unity at home. The path to prosperity of nations goes through respectful cooperation with each other.
- The basic criterion of democracy should be about the people, i.e. whether the people have the right to govern their country, their needs are met, and they have a sense of fulfillment and happiness.
- No country has the right to judge the world’s vast and varied political landscape by a single yardstick and having other countries copy one’s political system through color revolution, regime change and use of force are obviously anti-democratic.
In Joe Biden’s presidential election campaign, he promised to put the battle against “autocratic governments” at the heart of his foreign policy but the guestlist for his upcoming “democracy summit” has left many people bemused. The US Department of State, which is hosting the virtual summit between 9 and 10 December, has invited 110 countries. China and Russia are – perhaps not surprisingly considering US foreign policy – omitted from the list and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov accused Washington of “trying to privatise the term ‘democracy‘.”
Russia and China are firmly rejecting the US idea to hold the Summit for Democracy as it creates new dividing lines in the international community which contradicts the development of the modern world, the countries’ ambassadors to the US said in a joint article published in National Interest.
“The United States will be hosting the online Summit for Democracy on December 9-10, 2021, empowering itself to define who is to attend the event and who is not, who is a “democratic country” and who is not eligible for such status,” the ambassadors – Anatoly Antonov and Qin Gang – said.”
“An evident product of its Cold-War mentality, this will stoke up ideological confrontation and a rift in the world, creating new ‘dividing lines.’ This trend contradicts the development of the modern world. It is impossible to prevent the shaping of a global polycentric architecture but could strain the objective process. China and Russia firmly reject this move,” the diplomats added.
“Countries should focus on running their own affairs well, not condescendingly criticizing others. There is no need to worry about democracy in Russia and China. Certain foreign governments better think about themselves and what is going on in their homes,” the ambassadors said.
But there are much more startling omissions and some strange inclusions. India, which has around a billion voters, is “the world’s biggest democracy” and has been invited, along with arch-enemy Pakistan but there is no invitation for Bangladesh, which has a functioning democracy and is due to hold elections next year. Sheikh Hasina – the daughter of Bangladesh’s founding father – has been prime minister since 2009 but she has not been invited to the summit, possibly because of Bangladesh’s growing relationship with China.
Turkey, which is a member of NATO and was a US ally throughout the Cold War and as recently as the 2003 invasion of Iraq, has also been snubbed. Biden has in the past called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan an “autocrat” but nobody can argue with his democratic success – his AKP party has won every election since 2003 and Mr Erdogan won a resounding victory in the 2018 presidential election. Also omitted from the guest list is Egypt, which elected Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as President in 2014 and again in 2018.
Egyptians voted overwhelmingly in favour of constitutional changes which would allow President Sisi to stay in power until 2030. Israel and Iraq are the only Middle Eastern countries invited to President Biden’s little get-together. Singapore is another democracy that has been left off the guest list but the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Niger have both been invited, as have Kenya and Nigeria. There is also no place for Ethiopia, whose prime minister Abiy Ahmed won another five-year term in July’s election despite being mired in a conflict in the Tigray region.
Poland has also been invited but Biden has snubbed Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who is apparently not liberal enough. There are also invites for several former Soviet states – Estonia, Armenia and Georgia – but not others like Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan. On the State Department website the summit will have three key themes – “defending against authoritarianism”, “addressing and fighting corruption” and “promoting respect for human rights” but there is no explanation for why some countries have been invited and others snubbed.
According to the statement released by China and Russian ambassadors, there is only one international system in the world, i.e. the international system with the United Nations at its core. There is only one international order, i.e. the one underpinned by international law. And there is only one set of rules, i.e. the basic norms governing international relations based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. Flaunting the “rules-based international order” without referencing the UN and international law and attempting to replace international rules with the dictums of certain blocs falls into the category of revisionism and is obviously anti-democratic.
“There has seen no shortage of wars and turmoil worldwide to prove that spreading “democracy,” its political system, and values against other countries’ will severely undermine regional and international peace, security, and stability. Bombings of Yugoslavia, military intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, and “democratic transformation” do nothing but harm. “
The treatment released on the National Interest continued by saying, “Countries should focus on running their own affairs well, not condescendingly criticizing others. There is no need to worry about democracy in Russia and China. Certain foreign governments better think about themselves and what is going on in their homes. Is it freedom when various rallies in their countries are dispersed with rubber bullets and tear gas? It does not look very much like freedom.“
China and Russia call on countries not to use “value-based diplomacy” to provoke division and confrontation to start practicing mutual respect and win-win cooperation in international relations, and to work for harmonious coexistence between countries with different social systems, ideologies, histories, cultures, and development levels.