As US President Joe Biden called “democracy” a “defining challenge of our time,” China and Russia, argue that there is no single yardstick to “judge the world’s vast and varied political landscape.”
“Having other countries copy one’s political system through color revolution, regime change and even use of force go against international law, and are obviously anti-democratic,” Qin Gang and Anatoly Antonov, the Chinese and Russian ambassadors to the US, wrote in a joint article titled “Respecting People’s Democratic Rights.”
Their views were published in a US publication ahead of the virtual Summit for Democracy that began on Thursday with opening remarks of Biden.
“The American-led online Summit for Democracy will stoke ideological confrontation,” the envoys predicted, calling for the urgent “need to strengthen coordination and cooperation for common progress.”
Over 100 countries, excluding China and Russia, have been invited to the two-day event. Self-ruled Taiwan has also been invited by the Biden administration. Pakistan chose not to participate but said it will "continue to support all efforts aimed towards strengthening dialogue, constructive engagement."
Calling Washington out for what the two envoys said was “empowering itself to define who is to attend the event and who is not, who is a 'democratic country' and who is not eligible for such status,” they said this was the “product of its Cold War mentality.”
“This will stoke up ideological confrontation and a rift in the world, creating new ‘dividing lines’,” the joint piece said.
‘Democracy should be reflected in international relations’
Democracy is not just about domestic governance, said the Chinese and Russian ambassadors, “it should also be reflected in international relations.”
“Peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy, and freedom are common values of humanity. Democracy is not a prerogative of a certain country or a group of countries, but a universal right of all peoples,” they added.
The Washington-based envoys said the basic criterion of democracy should be about the people.
“Whether the people have the right to govern their country, whether their needs are met, and whether they have a sense of fulfillment and happiness,” they said.
“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,” they remarked.
The Chinese and Russian diplomats said a “true democratic government” would support “democracy in international relations.”
“It will not foster hegemony and division abroad while building democracy and unity at home,” they said.
“The path to prosperity of nations goes through respectful cooperation with each other, despite some differences in views on particular issues.
“The sovereignty, security, and development interests of a country should not be violated,” they remarked.
Interference in other countries anti-democratic
The envoys said interference in other countries’ internal affairs “under the pretext” of fighting corruption, promoting democratic values, or protecting human rights, hindering their development, wielding the big stick of sanctions, and even infringing on their sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity “go against the UN Charter and other basic norms of international law and are obviously anti-democratic.”
“International affairs should be handled in accordance with the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution, and shared benefits, and decided in the spirit of true multilateralism.
“There should be a more inclusive global governance, not something like ‘might makes right’,” the joint piece said.
They said seeking supremacy and putting “oneself always first” are “acts of hegemonism and unilateralism, and are obviously anti-democratic.”
“Using ideology to bring down other countries, and promote a geo-strategy for absolute security will lead to division and confrontation, and are obviously anti-democratic.”
UN system paramount
The Chinese and Russian envoys said the UN system was paramount and above every other system.
“There is only one international system in the world, i.e. the international system with the United Nations at its core. There is only one international order, i.e. the one underpinned by international law. And there is only one set of rules, i.e. the basic norms governing international relations based on the purposes and principles of the UN Charter,” they said.
The piece described the “rules-based international order” slogan of western countries as “without referencing the UN and international law and attempting to replace international rules with the dictums of certain blocs”.
“It falls into the category of revisionism and is obviously anti-democratic,” the piece added.
Calling for strengthening coordination and cooperation amid an “array of global challenges,” the ambassadors said the international community needs to improve cooperation between all countries 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,” the Chinese and Russian ambassadors said.