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Biden Invites Taiwan to Democracy Summit, Leaves Communist China Out

Chinese officials announced that their country is “firmly opposed” to Taiwan’s presence in Taiwan

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The President of the United States invited nearly 110 countries to participate in the Democracy Summit to be held on December 9 and 10. In the invitation, Biden included Taiwan and excluded tyrannical countries such as China, Russia, Iran, Cuba and Venezuela.

The summit intends to “bring together leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector to set forth an affirmative agenda for democratic renewal and to tackle the greatest threats faced by democracies today through collective action” and the U.S. relations with certain allies and partners and the event will focus on three main themes: “defending against authoritarianism, addressing and fighting corruption and promoting respect for human rights,” according to the State Department.

According to the list published by the State Department, the United States did not invite its main rival China but did invite Taiwan. It also did not include Turkey or El Salvador, governed by Nayib Bukele.

Taiwan’s inclusion angered the Chinese government, which sees the island as a separatist territory and opposes any attempt to legitimize it on the international scene.

Taiwan‘s inclusion is surprising, given that last week, during the virtual summit between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping, the American president committed himself to the one-China policy, although he also said he opposed “unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.”

Reactions from China were not long in coming: the Chinese Foreign Ministry said through its usual spokesman, Zhao Lijian that “the actions of the United States only show that democracy is just a cover and a tool for it to advance its geopolitical goals, oppress other countries, divide the world and serve its own interests.”

Another spokeswoman, Zhu Fenglian of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, also said the inclusion of Taiwan was a “mistake” and that Beijing opposes “any official interaction between the United States and China’s Taiwan region.”

For his part Xavier Chang, spokesman for the Taipei presidential office, thanked Biden for the invitation and noted that “Taiwan will firmly cooperate with like-minded countries to protect universal values such as freedom, democracy and human rights.”

More countries invited

The guest list includes mature democracies such as France and Sweden. However, other dubious ones such as Duterte’s Philippines or Modi’s India will also attend. Biden invited Brazil, governed by the right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, and declined the invitation to traditional Arab allies such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar or the United Arab Emirates.

From Europe, Poland was also invited despite recurrent tensions with Brussels over respect for the rule of law. But Hungary, led by the controversial Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, is not on the list. From the Middle East, only Israel and Iraq were invited to the meeting. As for Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and Niger are among those invited.

El Salvador’s absence is not surprising

Last October it became known that the United States is concerned about the possibility of El Salvador becoming “another Venezuela”. The Biden administration has already condemned the decision that enables Bukele’s reelection in 2024.

Juan González, Biden’s top advisor for Latin America, in a telephone interview with EFE news agency responded to the claims of President Bukele, who defined himself as “the coolest dictator in the world.”

“We have seen that movie before, in places like Venezuela, where someone uses popularity to create an authoritarian system, and that has not served the Venezuelan people very well,” said González.

Venezuela’s exclusion from the Democracy Summit is also not surprising, as the Biden administration does not recognize the regime of Nicolás Maduro as a legitimate or democratic government.

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