Democracy ‘not prerogative of certain nation’

Summit to be hosted by US ‘evident product of its Cold War mentality’

The upcoming virtual “Summit for Democracy”, to be hosted by the United States, will stoke ideological confrontation and create “dividing lines” at a time when the world urgently needs to ramp up cooperation to address global challenges, top Chinese and Russian envoys in Washington said.

In a joint opinion piece, the Chinese and Russian ambassadors to the US, Qin Gang and Anatoly Antonov, said the online meeting, scheduled to open on Dec 9, empowers itself to define who is to participate in the event and who is not, and which is a “democratic country” and which is not eligible for such status.

Calling the US move “an evident product of its Cold War mentality”, the two ambassadors said the event will stoke 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,” they wrote in The National Interest journal on Friday, three days after the US published a list of 110 countries and regions invited to participate in the summit.

The ambassadors said that democracy is a universal right of all peoples, “not a prerogative of a certain country or a group of countries”, and that democracy “can be realized in multiple ways” and “no model can fit all countries”.

The article stressed that a basic criterion of democracy should be about the people: whether they have the right to govern their country, whether their needs are met, and whether they have a sense of fulfillment and happiness.

“If the people are only awakened when casting their votes and sent back to hibernation when the voting is over, if they are served with sweet-sounding slogans in campaigns but have no say after the election, if they are wooed during canvassing but left out in the cold after that, this is not a genuine democracy,” the ambassadors wrote.

In the article, they briefed readers on the status quo of democracy in their respective countries.

What China has is an extensive, whole-process socialist democracy that reflects the people’s will, suits the country’s realities and enjoys strong support from the people.

In China, policies and measures can only be introduced when there is a consensus that they are what the people want and will serve the people’s needs.

In Russia, democracy is the fundamental principle of its political system, and the democratic institutions were further strengthened by the amendments to the Constitution adopted through a referendum in 2020.

The article said that Russia’s political system is evolving steadily and needs a stable and calm environment that guarantees the rights and interests of its people.

“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 even use of force goes against international law, and is obviously anti-democratic,” the ambassadors wrote.

They said that there has been no shortage of wars and turmoil worldwide to prove that spreading “democracy”, its political system and values against the will of other countries 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,” they wrote, adding that countries should focus on running their own affairs well, not “condescendingly” criticizing others.

They said 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,” they noted.

The ambassadors called attention to the array of global challenges confronting the world, which urgently requires countries to strengthen coordination and cooperation for common progress, especially to counter the COVID-19 pandemic, foster economic development and neutralize cross-border threats.

“China and Russia call on countries to stop using ‘value-based diplomacy’ to provoke division and confrontation; to practice 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,” they wrote.