On December 9 and 10 this year, the US will host online the so-called “Summit for Democracy”.
Based on its own criteria, the US has listed half the countries and regions in the world as democracies and the rest as non-democracies.
This practice in itself runs counter to the spirit of democracy and exposes the US’s true intention of weaponising democracy and using it as a tool to serve its narrow self-interest. This move of the US is driven by a typical Cold War mentality.
It wilfully interferes in other countries’ internal affairs under the pretext of democracy and human rights, plays up ideological confrontation, and creates more conflicts and divisions in the world.
This will seriously undermine the harmonious atmosphere for international co-operation, undermine the external environment for the rise of developing countries, including African countries, and the environment for world peace and development. It is bound to meet the common opposition of the international community.
The US’s self-proclaimed moral high ground of democracy has long been chipped away. Money politics in the US distorts and represses public opinion, making the election a “one-man show” for the rich.
The total expenditure for the presidential and congressional elections last year stood at $14 billion (R223.7bn), and the “one person, one vote” principle is diluted and falsified. American politics has become increasingly polarised, the politics of hate has become a national plague, and post-election riots have plunged the US Congress into chaos and made the country a laughing stock to the world. As a result, confidence in American democracy has fallen to its lowest level in 20 years.
US democracy is witnessing rampant domestic chaos. The US, which claims to have the world’s best medical resources and healthcare capacity, has handled Covid-19 abysmally.
So far, confirmed Covid-19 cases in the US have reached nearly 50 million, and the number of deaths is almost 800 000, both the highest in the world. Ethnic minorities are subject to systematic racial discrimination.
What happened to George Floyd and Lindani Myeni keeps happening to African-Americans. The high level of crimes involving gun violence poses a grave threat to public safety. The gap between the rich and the poor has widened dramatically; the vulnerable are not protected and the class divide is deepening.
All these continue to tear US society apart. The US is obsessed with exporting democracy to other countries, and its “democratic transformation” entails nothing but harm.
The US often lectures others on their democratic systems, labelling “authoritarianism”, “despotism” and “limited democracy” whenever there is a slight violation, brandishing the big stick of sanctions, and even infringing on the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of other countries.
The US exported its own system through illegal means such as “colour revolution”, regime change and even the use of force, yet the forced system always backfires as it could not adapt to the local situation. In Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, democracy forcibly transplanted by the US has had disastrous results.
And, at the end of the day, it is the innocent people who bear the brunt. According to a recent Pew poll, 81% of Americans say there is a serious domestic threat to the future of US democracy, 72% believe American democracy is no longer a good model for other countries to follow, and 44% of respondents all around the world see the US as the biggest threat to global democracy.
According to a poll by the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School, 52% of young Americans think democracy is “in trouble” or “failing”. The Sweden-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International Idea), has included the US in the annual list of “backsliding” democracies for the first time in its “Global State of Democracy 2021” report.
What qualifications and rights do such a country have to host a “democracy summit”? Democracy is not the monopoly of any one country or a small group of countries, but the common right of all peoples. There are no identical political systems in the world. Democracy can take many forms, and there is no one-size-fits-all model or standard.
Whether a country’s path of development works is judged, first and foremost, by whether it fits the country’s conditions; whether it follows the development trend of the times; whether it brings about economic growth, social advancement, better livelihoods and social stability; whether it has the people’s endorsement and support and whether it contributes to the progressive cause of humanity.
China’s State Council Information Office published a white paper, titled “China: Democracy That Works”, on December 4. China’s socialist democracy is people’s democracy in the whole process and on the broadest scale.
It reflects the will of the people, suits China’s national conditions, and is supported by the people. The Chinese people have both the right to vote and the right to participate extensively in state governance in accordance with the law, and exercise state power through the National People’s Congress and local people’s congresses at various levels.
China adheres to and improves the system of multiparty cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the CPC, constantly consolidates and develops the broadest possible patriotic united front, practises the system of regional ethnic autonomy and improves the system of self-governance at the grass-roots level, which demonstrates the universality and authenticity of China’s democracy.
Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, with a deeper understanding of China’s path to democracy and the political system, the CPC has advanced democratic elections, consultations, decision-making, management, and oversight, progressed electoral democracy and consultative democracy side by side and expanded the people’s orderly political participation and the scope of democracy.
Under the leadership of the CPC, the Chinese people have made a series of miraculous achievements, including long-term stability, rapid development and poverty alleviation.
The Chinese people’s satisfaction with the Chinese government has remained above 90% year after year. History and reality fully prove that China’s model of democracy suits China’s national conditions and is supported by the people.
It is a genuine, effective and successful democracy. China is a democracy worthy of its name. China is not only actively developing people’s democracy at home but is also vigorously promoting democracy in international relations.
In the face of profound changes unseen in a century, China has held high the banner of peace, development, co-operation and mutual benefit, put forward the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind, and promoted a new type of international relations.
Amid global competition in economic, scientific and technological fields, China sees others as partners rather than rivals. Instead of engaging in a Cold War, confrontation, control and manipulation, China promotes exchanges and cooperation for mutual benefit and win-win outcomes.
China has been actively developing global partnerships to deepen and enrich cooperation under the BRI, and strengthening exchanges and cooperation with other countries to share development opportunities.
China does not seek to export its “model of democracy”, nor will it accept any attempt by external forces to change its system. China firmly supports all countries in independently choosing their own path of democratic development, and opposes external interference in other countries’ internal affairs under the pretext of “democracy”.
At present, with the intertwined impact of the global epidemic and major changes unseen in a century, human development is facing unprecedented risks and challenges, which calls for concerted efforts and cooperation from the international community.
In his keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the 8th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (Focac), President Xi Jinping stressed that the world needs true multilateralism, and China and Africa need to work together to uphold equity and justice.
China stands ready to work together with South Africa and other countries to strengthen exchanges of experience on governance, expand pragmatic co-operation across the board, promote common values of humanity, including peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy and freedom, and enrich political civilisation for humanity in the spirit of mutual respect and seeking common ground while putting aside differences, so as to jointly promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.
* Chen is the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to South Africa
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media and IOL.