Biden Plans to Bring Up 'Democratic Recession' at His 'Summit for Democracy'
11:57 GMT 09.12.2021 (Updated: 12:04 GMT 09.12.2021)
© AP Photo / Manuel Balce CenetaThe US Capitol dome
© AP Photo / Manuel Balce Ceneta
The US will host a two-day virtual “Summit for Democracy” Thursday and Friday to discuss ways to “renew democracy at home and confront autocracies abroad”. The summit’s division of nations into ‘democratic’ and ‘nondemocratic’ has been slammed by Russia and China, who warned that the meeting may spark a new Cold War-style ideological confrontation.
President Joe Biden plans to bring up what his administration characterises as a “recession” of democracy in the world at the US-hosted “Summit for Democracy”, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre has indicated.
“On day zero of the Summit for Democracy, we are excited to be convening over 100 governments and even more members of civil society and the private sector to focus on what the president has called ‘the challenge of our time’, reversing the ongoing global democratic recession and ensuring that democracies deliver for their people. So that is kind of the goal…of the summit. And that’s going to be the focus of the summit,” the spokeswoman said, speaking at a press gaggle aboard Air Force One Wednesday.
A senior anonymous administration official told reporters that Mr. Biden also plans to bring up the issue of voting rights in the US itself.
Biden and the Democrats’ efforts to introduce voting rights reform known as the ‘For the People Act’ remains stalled in Congress amid fierce resistance from Republicans, who view the proposed expansion of voting rights via automatic registration, eased electronic registration and simplified mail-in voting as a political ploy designed to expand pro-Democratic voter turnout and, potentially, simplify the manipulation of voting results. The bill’s proponents maintain that the legislation will lead to more secure elections, reduce the influence of money in politics, and end gerrymandering – the practice of dividing voting districts to maximise a candidate or party’s chances of getting elected.
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The For the People Act was passed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives in March, but has remained blocked in the Senate, which is equally divided between Republicans and Democrats, where it requires 60 of 100 votes to pass.
Amid Washington’s focus on alleged democratic shortcomings abroad, the Biden administration has faced fierce criticism at home from former president Donald Trump and his supporters, who have alleged, so far without court-verified proof, that the 2020 election was ‘stolen’ from the Republican candidate using electronic voting machine manipulations and falsified mail-in ballots in swing states.
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The “Summit for Democracy” has also faced vocal criticism from other countries, with nations including Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela, Syria, Vietnam, Cuba, Serbia and others not invited to the virtual event, which is expected to be attended by 110 participants, including Taiwan. Even some US allies, including Hungary, Turkey and Morocco, were not invited to participate.
Beijing has blasted the US for allowing Taiwan – which the People’s Republic considers to be an integral part of China, to participate. At the same time, Tian Peiyan, deputy director of the policy research office at the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee, has called the summit a “joke”, and suggested that “under the American democratic system, US politicians are the agents of interest groups, and don’t represent interests of majority voters nor [the US] national interest.”
Tian suggested that while “the US is a self-styled leader of democracy…its so-called summit of democracy is only aimed at suppressing and containing countries with a different development model”.
Last week, the Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a report highlighting a series of problems with the US democratic system, suggesting that “over the years, democracy in the US has become alienated and degenerated, and has increasingly deviated from the essence of democracy” due to problems like “money [in] politics, identity politics, wrangling between political parties, political polarisation, social division, racial tensions, and [the] wealth gap”. The report also pointed to the disastrous consequences of attempts to apply the US democratic model to other nations.
24 November 2021, 15:20 GMT
In late November, Anatoly Antonov and Qin Gang, the Russian and Chinese ambassadors to the US, penned a joint op-ed in US news, international and military affairs magazine the National Interest, rejecting the Summit for Democracy as a farce in which the US has empowered itself “to define…who is a ‘democratic country’ and who is not eligible for such status”.
“An evident product of [the US’s] 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,” the diplomats suggested.
Antonov and Gang argued that “countries should focus on running their own affairs well, not condescendingly criticising 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.”
12 November 2021, 09:08 GMT