Virtual summit between Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping from the White House in Washington on November 15, 2021 (AFP / MANDEL NGAN)
US President Joe Biden on Wednesday drew the wrath of Russia and China, which are not among the 110 or so countries and territories invited to his virtual summit for democracy in December.
“The United States prefers to create new dividing lines, to divide the countries into good, according to them, and bad, according to them,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during a telephone press briefing.
US President Joe Biden in Washington on November 23, 2021 (AFP / Brendan Smialowski)
Beijing has expressed its “firm opposition” to Taiwan’s invitation to this virtual summit.
“Taiwan has no other status in international law than that of an integral part of China,” a spokesman for Chinese diplomacy, Zhao Lijian, told reporters.
Almost at the same time, the authorities of the island at the heart of the Beijing-Washington rivalry thanked the American president for his decision to invite Taiwan.
– “Success experience” –
“Thanks to this summit, Taiwan will be able to share its experience of democratic success,” Xavier Chang, spokesperson for the presidential office, told reporters.
The Asian giant considers Taiwan as one of its provinces although it does not control the island of 23 million inhabitants.
Joe Biden listens to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a meeting in Washington on September 24, 2021 (AFP / Jim WATSON)
In recent weeks, the passes of arms have multiplied between Beijing and Washington on the fate of the territory, which enjoys a democratic system and has its own government, currency and army.
The American president has not hidden it since his arrival at the White House in January: the fight between democracies and “autocracies”, embodied in his eyes by China and Russia, is at the heart of his foreign policy.
The “summit for democracy”, a campaign pledge the first version of which will take place online on December 9 and 10 before a face-to-face meeting a year later, is one of the cornerstones of this priority.
India, often described as “the largest democracy in the world”, will be present despite frequent criticism from human rights defenders against its Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. So is Pakistan, despite a checkered relationship with Washington.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Joe Biden before a meeting on Iranian nuclear power at the G20 in Rome on October 31, 2021 (AFP / Brendan Smialowski)
Turkey, Washington’s ally within NATO but whose President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has in the past been described as an “autocrat” by Joe Biden, is not among the participating countries either.
– “Tackling the crisis” –
In the Middle East, only Israel and Iraq were invited. The traditional Arab allies of the Americans, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, are absent.
Joe 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 the Hungary of Prime Minister Viktor Orban is not.
On the African side, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and Niger are among the invited countries.
“For a first summit”, “there are good reasons to have a wide range of actors present: it allows a better exchange of ideas”, told AFP, before the publication of the list, Laleh Ispahani , from the Open Society Foundation.
For her, rather than making it an anti-China meeting – “it would be a lost opportunity” – Joe Biden must take advantage of these meetings which will bring together both leaders and civil society to “attack to the crisis represented by the serious decline of democracy around the world, including for relatively solid models like the United States “.
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