Biden's Democracy Summit: 100+ nations invited, China & Russia see red after being left out
The White House describes the event, which is taking place by video link due to the Coronavirus pandemic, as US leadership in the existential struggle between democracies and powerful autocracies or dictatorships
On Thursday, Joe Biden will host representatives from more than 100 countries for a democracy summit that has drawn criticism from China and Russia.
The White House describes the event, which is taking place by video link due to the Coronavirus pandemic, as US leadership in the existential struggle between democracies and powerful autocracies or dictatorships.
"Make no mistake, we're at a moment of democratic reckoning," said Uzra Zeya, the Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights.
"It's no secret that democracies around the world are facing increasing challenges from new and novel threats. Countries in virtually every region of the world have experienced degrees of democratic backsliding."
United States sees the December 9 and 10 summit as a "galvanizing moment" for world democracies to address pressing challenges.
The two-day summit will be opened by President Biden at the White House and will bring together participants from over 100 countries, as well as NGOs, businesses, philanthropic organizations and legislators.
However, the fact that Biden continues to face shocking challenges to democratic norms from Donald Trump, who has attempted to throw out the 2020 election, poses a troubling backdrop to the summit.
Even before summit attendees could meet, tensions erupted over who should be included and excluded from the list.
In Biden's case, China and Russia, which he sees as the champions of autocracies, were left out, which they say is stoking an ideological rift.
"No country has the right to judge the world's vast and varied political landscape by a single yardstick," wrote ambassadors Anatoly Antonov of Russia and Qin Gang of China in a joint essay last month.
A further irritant to Chinese sensibilities is the Biden administration's invitation to Taiwan, a democratically-ruled island that mainland China considers a part of its territory, but does not yet control.
In addition, the absence of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Bhutan, which are some of India's closest democratic neighbours, further reinforces China's view that the summit is intended to divide Asia.
(With inputs from agencies)