By Prof. Zhou Rong
The United States plans to host the so-called ‘Democracy Summit’ via video-link from December 9 to 10. The intended event would essentially drive the world towards further divisions, and promises no future. Wang Yi, China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister, believes that the U.S. is essentially doing anti-democratic things under the banner of democracy. It is ironic to classify the United States as a democratic country.
The world is well aware of the recent unfortunate examples. After losing the election, Donald Trump not only blamed the entire election process as the problem, but also incited violent protestors to storm the U.S. Congress. What brand or version of democracy it was, the world still fails to understand? Racial discrimination in the United States is deeply rooted; exposed only further and deeper by the pandemic.
Researches around the world are debunking the myth of American democracy, and it being a model. A poll conducted in 16 countries that are considered democratic and U.S. ‘allies’ found that only 17 percent of people think the U.S. is still the benchmark for democracy; another 23 percent think it never was so. That indeed is a big global disapproval for American democracy, which is not seen in the positive light even in the Western world.
Is it any secret that what kind of authoritarian governments and absolute monarchies the US has been promoting and siding with, as long as they have been toeing the American line in global affairs? The United States is simply taking democracy as a cover and a card, and what it is actually doing is dividing the world. After the division of the world in the cold war of the last century, nations were trying to bridge the world, and people all over the world looked forward to and wanted to see globalization.
The list of invitees to the summit makes it clear that countries have been chosen on the basis of their alignment with the US’ strategic objectives, not the democratic ideals and models in any way.
Although India boasts to be the world’s largest democracy, but the some time ago when U.S. Secretary of State Blinken visited India, he minced no words in pointing out that Indian democracy was going in retreat – and admitted that both India and the US were far from achieving the democratic ideals. So what is the objective of inviting India? Because India is a very important partner in the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy, to counter China. Once tensions are high along the border between China and India, the United States would pull away from India, whether India is a democracy by American standards or not.
In the Middle East, the United States invited Israel and Iraq. In fact, inviting Iraq is to dilute Israel’s participation, otherwise the explicit and embarrassing US-Israeli partnership is well known. Of course, the United States has also invited China’s strategic partnered Pakistan. Yet, there is not any goodwill involved here, but the decision of driven by US’ continuous need for Pakistan to serve American strategic interests. The United States does not like any hold any positive view of Pakistan; inviting Pakistan is only a strategic need.
It is important to note that the only EU union member not invited to the summit is Hungary. The entire EU is the ‘western camp’ so why no invitation for Hungary? Because the Hungarian prime minister has some views that the US dislikes and does not go well with. It is clear that Biden administration is not displaying the spirit of a host but that of a dominant hegemon. By this very way of picking and choosing that who participates and who remains outside, the US is very clearly sowing the seeds of another global division. The very approach of choosing who should participate and who should not, is undemocratic.
The U.S. has initiated the so-called ‘democracy summit’ because it can set standards in all areas, including democracy. But the effect actually is manifesting in the form of a split. All countries and regions that are seen posing a challenge to America’s national interests are destined to be ‘undemocratic.’ Whether it is business, economic model, governance system of framework of human rights; if it does not suit US’ interests, it is not viewed as democratic.
Indeed, there is actually a systemic tussle between the United States and China. Especially under the epidemic, many countries have seen an advantage of the Chinese system, but the United States with its absolutely closed eyes cannot accept this, so it wishes to use the ‘democratic stick’ to hit at China, but this stick actually hit back, in reaction, in a very damaging way.
[The author is Senior Research Fellow, Zhongyang Institute of Financial Studies, RenMin University, Beijing]