Biden’s ‘Summit For Democracy’ Sparks Questions Over Invite List

The Biden administration is set to hold an online meeting with over 100 countries on Thursday and Friday for its “Summit for Democracy” but is drawing criticism over what countries were and were not invited.

Pakistan made the list, to the confusion of some outlets, who noted that the State Department itself pointed out in 2020 that the nation has human rights issues to consider. 

In its 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices regarding Pakistan, the State Department noted the country experiences “unlawful or arbitrary killings by the government or its agents, including extrajudicial killings; forced disappearance by the government or its agents; torture and cases of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by the government or its agents.” 

It also included “serious restrictions on free expression, the press, and the internet, including violence against journalists,” as well as “severe restrictions of religious freedom; restrictions on freedom of movement.”

Potential political and diplomatic motivations behind the list have also been discussed. 

As Politico reported: 

Hungary and Turkey didn’t make the cut — their leaders have been undermining their democratic institutions for years despite U.S. reproach. But Poland, where similar anti-democratic forces have been on the rise for years, did get an invite. One likely reason? The United States saw fit to stand by the country as it faces aggressive moves along its border from Russian-backed Belarus.

The Hungarian Embassy in Washington said the Biden administration’s move to leave Hungary out was “disrespectful,” per The Washington Post.

“Hungarian-American relations were at their peak during the Trump presidency, and it is clear from the list of the invited countries that the summit will be a domestic political event,” the embassy reportedly said in a statement to The Washington Post. “Therefore countries that were on friendly terms with the previous administration were not invited.”

Notably, while China, Thailand, and Vietnam were not included, Taiwan did receive an invitation.

On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the summit, and said, “Inclusion or an invitation is not a stamp of approval on their approach to democracy — nor is exclusion a stamp of the opposite of that, of disapproval.”

In a November op-ed written by the Chinese and Russian ambassadors to the U.S., the officials criticized the move of the administration, writing:

An evident product of its Cold-War mentality, this will stoke up ideological confrontation and a rift in the world, creating new “dividing lines.” This trend contradicts the development of the modern world. It is impossible to prevent the shaping of a global polycentric architecture but could strain the objective process. China and Russia firmly reject this move.

“Democracy is not a prerogative of a certain country or a group of countries, but a universal right of all peoples. It can be realized in multiple ways, and no model can fit all countries,” Anatoly Antonov of Russia and Qin Gang of China, added.

They argued that China has “an extensive, whole-process socialist democracy. It reflects the people’s will, suits the country’s realities, and enjoys strong support from the people.”

Regarding Russia, they wrote, “Russia is a democratic federative law-governed state with a republican form of government. Democracy is the fundamental principle of its political system.”

They concluded by writing:

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.

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