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Friday, January 21, 2022

Ahead of Biden’s Democracy Summit, China Says We Are Democracy Too

BEIJING. As President Biden prepares to host the “Summit for Democracy” this week, China responded with an incredible statement: It is also a democracy.

Regardless of the fact that the Chinese Communist Party controls the country’s 1.4 billion inhabitants, it does not tolerate opposition parties; that its leader Xi Jinping came to power as a result of an opaque political process without popular elections; that public calls for democracy in China are severely punished, often with long prison terms.

“There is no fixed model of democracy; it comes in many forms, “says the State Council, China’s highest governing body, in a position paper released over the weekend entitled” China: A Democracy That Works. “

It is unlikely that any democratic country will be convinced by the China model. By any measure other than its own, China is one of the least democratic countries in the world, occupying the bottom line of the ranking of political and personal freedoms.

Even so, the government expects its message to find audiences in some countries disaffected by liberal democracy or American criticism – be it in Latin America, Africa or Asia. including in China itself.

“They want to get back on their feet, go on the defensive, what they call Western democracy,” said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, a political scientist at Hong Kong Baptist University.

China’s Democracy Newspaper is the latest in a weeklong campaign to undermine Mr Biden’s virtual meeting, which begins Thursday.

In speeches, articles and videos on state television, officials extolled what they call Chinese-style democracy. At the same time, Beijing has criticized democracy in the United States, in particular, as deeply flawed, seeking to undermine the moral authority of the Biden administration, which seeks to rally the West to oppose China.

“Democracy is not a decoration for decoration; it should be used to solve problems that people want to solve, ”Xi Jinping said at a gathering of Communist Party leaders in October, state news agency Xinhua reported. (In the same address, he ridiculed the “songs and dances” given to voters during elections, arguing that voters don’t have much influence until the next campaign.)

On Sunday, the Foreign Office released another report that criticized American politics for what it described as the corrupting influence of money, deepening social polarization, and electoral college injustice. Likewise, officials later attempted to downplay the White House’s announcement that US officials would not attend the Beijing Winter Olympics in February, saying they weren’t invited anyway.

China’s propaganda offensive has generated some surprising claims about the fundamental nature of the Communist Party’s rule and the superiority of its political and social model. It also suggests that Beijing may be unsure of how it is perceived by the world.

“The fact that the regime feels the need to consistently justify its political system in terms of democracy is compelling confirmation of the symbolism and legitimacy of the term,” said Sarah Cook, an analyst covering China at Freedom House, a human rights group. in Washington DC.

When officials presented the government’s policy paper on Saturday, they seemed to be competing over who might refer to “democracy” more often, while confusing the definition of the word.

The Chinese system “has achieved process democracy and outcome democracy, procedural democracy and real democracy, direct democracy and indirect democracy, and the unity of people’s democracy and the will of the country,” said Xu Lin, deputy director of the propaganda department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. branch.

The campaign echoes the rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union, which struggled for decades over the merits of their political systems, said Charles Parton, a China specialist at the Royal United Services Institute, a British research group.

“They are in some way more interested in ideological competition, and that brings us back to the Cold War,” Mr. Parton said, referring to China.

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Biden’s Democratic summit, which administration officials say is clearly not focused on China, has also come under fire from both the West and China, in part for those he invited and did not mention.

Angola, Iraq and Congo, countries that Freedom House classifies as undemocratic, will participate, while two NATO allies, Turkey and Hungary, will not.

In a move likely to anger Beijing, the White House also invited two officials from Taiwan, a democratic island that China considers to be its own; and Nathan Lowe, a former MP for the Hong Kong Semi-Autonomous Territory, who sought asylum in the UK following the Chinese crackdown.

Beijing’s defense of its political system is underpinned by several main arguments, and a few others. believable than others.

Officials cite elections held in townships or districts to select representatives to the lowest of five levels of legislature. These votes, however, are carefully planned, and any potential candidates who disagree with the Communist Party face harassment or more serious consequences.

Each legislature then selects delegates for the next level, all the way up to the National People’s Congress, a parliamentary body of nearly 3,000 members that meets every spring to validate decisions made by the party leadership behind closed doors.

When Mr. Xi pushed through a constitutional amendment that removed the presidential term limits, effectively allowing him to rule indefinitely, there were 2,958 votes to 2 by secret ballot.

China has also accused the United States of imposing Western values ​​on other cultures – an argument that may resonate in regions where the two powers are fighting for influence.

Chinese Ambassador to the US Qin Gang recently joined his Russian counterpart Anatoly Antonov in denouncing the Biden summit as hypocritical and hegemonic. In the conservative magazine The National Interest, they cited support for democratic movements in authoritarian countries, which became known as “color revolutions.”

“No country has the right to judge the vast and varied political landscape of the world by a single criterion,” they wrote.

Pointing to how American and other Western societies have been torn apart by political, social and racial divisions and hampered by the coronavirus pandemic, China also claims that its form of government has proven to be more effective in promoting prosperity and stability.

As officials often point out, China has achieved more than four decades of rapid economic growth. Most recently, it contained the coronavirus outbreak that began in Wuhan, with fewer deaths during the pandemic than in some countries in a single day.

Skeptics reject the argument that such gains make China a democracy.

They cite polls similar to a study by the University of Würzburg in Germany, which ranked countries for variables such as judicial independence, press freedom, and electoral integrity. According to the latest data, China is in last place among 176 countries. Below are only Saudi Arabia, Yemen, North Korea and Eritrea. Denmark first; USA 36th.

In China, the Communist Party controls the courts and heavily censors the media. He suppressed Tibetan culture and language, restricted freedom of religion, and carried out a large-scale detention campaign in Xinjiang.

Moreover, China’s vigorous defense of its system in recent months has done nothing to soften its persecution for dissent.

Jerome Cohen, a law professor specializing in China in New York, said two of China’s most prominent human rights lawyers are expected to be tried later this year. University. As of Tuesday, a Chinese Bloomberg News employee in Beijing has been in custody for a year, saying little about the accusations against her.

Under Mr. Xi’s rule, intellectuals are now more wary of speaking their minds in China than they have ever been since Mao Zedong’s death in 1976.

“This is an unusual time for the Chinese experience,” said Mr. Cohen. “I really think the definition of totalitarianism applies.”

Kate Bradsher reported from Beijing and Stephen Lee Myers reported from Seoul.

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
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