Biden invites Taiwan to his democratic summit, prompting China’s reprimand


Joe Biden has invited Taiwan to a virtual summit on democracy with more than 100 countries, a move that sparked outrage from authoritarian China, which is not on the list.

Taiwan thanked Biden for the invitation and said the meeting would be a unique opportunity for autonomous democracy to shine its credentials on the world stage.

“Through this summit, Taiwan can share its democratic success story,” Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang told reporters.

China said it “strongly opposes” the inclusion of an island that it considers “an inalienable part of Chinese territory.” Beijing claims that Taiwan’s self-government as part of its territory will one day be retaken, by force if necessary.

>> Read more: With intensified rhetoric, is the United States moving away from ‘strategic ambiguity’ in Taiwan?

The world conference was a campaign promise from the president of the United States, who has placed the struggle between democracies and “autocratic governments” at the center of his foreign policy.

The “Summit for Democracy” will take place online on December 9 and 10 before an in-person meeting in its second edition next year.

The meeting was publicized for a long time, but the guest list, posted Tuesday on the State Department’s website, will be closely scrutinized.

Unsurprisingly, the main rivals of the United States, China and Russia, are not in it.

The invitation is a major blow to Taipei at a time when Beijing is stepping up its campaign to keep Taiwan out of international bodies.

Only 15 countries officially recognize Taipei over Beijing, although many nations maintain de facto diplomatic relations with the island.

The United States does not recognize Taiwan as an independent country, but upholds it as a rare model of progressive democracy in Asia and maintains it as a crucial regional ally.

China resists any use of the word “Taiwan” or diplomatic gestures that may give the island a sense of international legitimacy.

“I agree that Taiwan highly qualifies, but it appears to be (the) only invited democratic government that the US government does not officially recognize. So its inclusion is a big problem,” tweeted Julian Ku, a law professor at the Hofstra University. specialties include China.

India, often called “the largest democracy in the world”, will be present despite mounting criticism from human rights defenders for the democratic backsliding of Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

So will Pakistan, despite its rocky relationship with Washington.

Democracy in decline

Turkey, a US ally in NATO, whose president Recep Tayyip Erdogan was dubbed an “autocrat” by Biden, was not on the list.

The city-states of Singapore and Bangladesh, one of the world’s most populous democracies, were also not on the list.

In the Middle East, only Israel and Iraq were invited. The traditional Arab allies of the United States (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates) are absent.

Biden also invited Brazil, which is led by controversial far-right president Jair Bolsonaro.

In Europe, Poland is represented, despite recurring tensions with Brussels over respect for the rule of law, but Hungary’s far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orban is not.

On the African side, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and Niger are invited.

“For this launch summit … there is a case for a broad set of actors to enter the room: it provides a better exchange of ideas than setting a perfect bar for qualification,” Laleh Ispahani of Open Society told AFP. Foundations. .

Rather than use the summit as an anti-China gathering, Ispahani urged Biden to address “the serious decline of democracy around the world, including relatively strong models like those in the United States.”

This summit is organized at a time when democracy has suffered setbacks in countries where the United States had high hopes.

Sudan and Myanmar have experienced military coups, Ethiopia is in the midst of a conflict that could lead to its “implosion,” according to US diplomats, and the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of US troops after two decades.