‘No One Shall Monopolize the Right to Define Democracy,’ China Says Ahead of WH Summit

By Patrick Goodenough | November 24, 2021 | 4:14am EST
Chinese soldiers celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party last summer. (Photo by Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images)
Chinese soldiers celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party last summer. (Photo by Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) – Ahead of President Biden’s planned democracy summit next month, China and Russia are stepping up their verbal attacks, charging that the West does not have a monopoly on democracy.

“No one shall monopolize the right to define democracy,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said this week.

“The international community should put an end to certain countries’ monopoly over defining democracy and allow various forms of democracy to flourish,” he told a briefing. “There is no such thing as a supreme model of democracy in the world.”

In a thinly-veiled reference to the United States, Zhao asked, “What is the point of elections, freedom of speech and personal rights if such elections fail to select leaders with outstanding competence, the freedom of speech only leads to social division, and millions of people die of the virus as a result of indiscriminate measures to protect so-called personal rights?”

Another swipe came from Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe, who was quoted as saying during a videoconference meeting with his Russian counterpart Tuesday that their two countries “oppose the fake democratic regime of the U.S. [and] the fake multi-culturalism.”

China Daily cited Russian ambassador to China Andrey Denisov as telling a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) central committee session briefing that attempts by the U.S. to classify countries as democratic or undemocratic were wrong.

He said only a few countries could meet the “false” criteria set by the U.S., and only a small minority of U.N. member-states would qualify. (Denisov did not elaborate on the purported “criteria.”)

Due to mounting internal problems, he said, the U.S. had become democracy’s worst representative, rather than its model.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

Similar charges were levied during a webinar late last week, co-hosted by the Chinese and Russian missions to the U.N. in Geneva, on “diversified approaches” to democracy and human rights.

“Some countries pretending to be ‘the bulwark of democracy’ still see themselves in the period of the Cold War,” said Russia’s permanent representative in Geneva, Gennady Gatilov.

“To our regret, their recent initiatives aimed at further deepening divisions between countries on the basis of their compliance with so-called democratic criteria, have nothing to do with efforts to make our world a better and safer place.”

Gatilov accused the U.S. of trying to spread its form of democracy, through regime change and support for so-called “color revolutions” – a reference to a wave of political uprisings in the Balkans, Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan during the early to mid-2000s.

“I regret to say that in today’s world, the export of democracy to various regions, regime change, the staging of color revolutions and the use of other methods of imposing models of so-called democratic development upon sovereign states with no consideration for their history, culture, and traditions have become major destabilizing factors.”

The CCP is ‘ready to share’ its achievements in promoting democracy and human rights

The charge d'affaires of the Chinese Mission in Geneva, Li Song, told the event that democracy cannot be “mass-produced.”

“Democracy and human rights are not decorations, nor luxuries, even less a monopoly of a handful of countries,” he said. “Rather, it represents a right that people of all countries are entitled to.”

“We Chinese are proud of the achievements China has made in promoting democracy and human rights, and we stand ready to share with other countries and peoples our practices and experience,” Li said.

China was keen to learn from other cultures and welcomed “constructive criticism” but would not accept “preaching from those who feel they have the right to lecture us.”

“Dismissing forms of democracy that are different from one’s own is in itself undemocratic,” he said. “To interfere in other countries’ internal affairs in the name of democracy and human rights, and to artificially give rise to confrontation will only entail turbulence, even disasters.”

According to Zhao of the foreign ministry, dozens of permanent missions in Geneva took part in the webinar.

Screenshots of the Zoom session show a few participants, including representatives from Burma, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Zimbabwe, and the Assad and Maduro regimes. (Like co-hosts China and Russia, all are graded “not free” in Freedom House’s annual assessment of countries’ political rights and civil liberties.)

“Whether a country is democratic or not should be judged by its people,” Zhao said. “This webinar shows that these viewpoints of the Chinese side have been recognized by more and more countries.”

Beijing has long bristled at U.S. criticism of its human rights record; every year since 2000, its State Council has compiled a scathing report on human rights in the U.S., which is released in response to the State Department’s annual report on human rights around the world.

The subject has become even more heated in recent years, as revelations emerged of mass-scale atrocities against minority Uyghurs in Xinjiang – violations which the Trump and Biden administration both said amounted to genocide.

The White House is hosting a “summit for democracy” in virtual form on December 9-10, to be followed by an in-person second meeting in the summer or fall of 2022.

“The summit will focus on challenges and opportunities facing democracies and will provide a platform for leaders to announce both individual and collective commitments, reforms, and initiatives to defend democracy and human rights at home and abroad,” the administration says of the event.

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