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Taiwan to attend US summit for democracy as China snubbed

Taiwan to attend a virtual US Democracy Summit this week after countries like China and Russia fail to make attendees’ lists, further sign of US support for East Asian democracy .

Hsiao Bi-khim, Taiwan’s de facto Ambassador to the United States, and Digital Minister Audrey Tang, will represent Taiwan at the meeting on Thursday and Friday alongside representatives from more than 100 countries and global institutions.

“This summit on democracy is the White House sending a signal that democratic countries must support each other and work together to strengthen human rights, freedom and democracy,” said Wang Ting-yu, member of the Taiwan Legislative Assembly which sits at its Foreign Office. & National Defense Commission.

Wang said Taiwan’s invitation to the summit was a “clear signal to Beijing” that Taiwan is a close ally and should be treated like a country, although its government is recognized by only 15 countries and the Holy See.

Despite its international exclusion, Taiwan consistently tops democratic rankings and ranks first in East Asia and 11th globally in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index 2020.

The United States and Taiwan do not have formal diplomatic relations, but the United States has nonetheless been a major ally. Under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, the United States pledged to help Taiwan defend itself against external threats.

The recent show of US support comes at a difficult time in Taiwanese relations. In October, China stepped up air incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, prompting Taiwanese Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng to declare at the time that tensions were at their height. worst in 40 years.

In response to this threat, the United States has become more pro-Taiwan, which included a recent statement by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that China would face “terrible consequences” if it attacked Taiwan.

Beijing regards Taiwan, a democracy of 23 million people, as a capricious province and has not ruled out the use of force to unify it with the mainland.

Events like the US Democracy Summit are also an important way for Taiwan to maintain international visibility as it is excluded from most major organizations like the United Nations, said Yao-Yuan Yeh, chairman of the Department of International Studies and of Modern Languages ​​from the University of St. Thomas in Texas.

“The United States will likely invite Taiwan to sit at the table whenever it can, but before full decoupling from China, the United States would still be cautious of such measures to avoid misperceptions of China, ”he said.

Officials are seen during a press conference at the State Council’s Information Office in Beijing, China on December 4, 2021. The Communist Party of China has taken on American democracy, sharply criticizing a summit Global Democracy Forum hosted by President Biden.

Since taking office in January, US President Joe Biden has attempted to reverse the course set by his predecessor Donald J. Trump which saw the United States withdraw from many of its international obligations.

Biden turned to a values-based foreign policy that describes the world as a competition between democracies and authoritarian governments – a posture that seems to have struck the nerve of the Communist Party in Beijing.

After protesting its exclusion from the talks, China held a parallel summit on democracy over the weekend and released two reports on what it called the state of democracy in China, comparing it to the states- United.

China is an authoritarian country whose government is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. However, officials maintain that they are implementing “socialist democracy” which they believe is a core value of the Chinese Communist Party. Despite this claim, Beijing ranks well below liberal democracies in terms of political freedom. China ranked 151 Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index 2020, placing it on par with Bahrain, Iran and Sudan.

The Chinese State Council’s white paper “China: A Democracy That Works” has, however, been heavily promoted on Twitter by state media and government accounts since its publication on Saturday.

A Twitter video produced by the State Council’s Information Office states, “China has not followed the established course of Western countries in its modernization process. Likewise, China did not duplicate Western models of democracy, but created its own. ”

As part of the messaging campaign, the state-backed Global Times newspaper shared a graph unfavorably comparing the lower voter turnout rates in the United States to the claimed 90% turnout in China.

Both should be seen as part of China’s increased efforts to “promote its version of democracy and challenge what liberal democracies are proposing,” said Adam Ni, who publishes the China Neican bulletin on Chinese governance issues.

“That goes well with this idea why democracy should be something that only western countries say is democracy (but) people take democracy to mean different things.”

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