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China, Russia envoys call for respect of people's democratic rights

By Zhao Huanxin in Washington | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-11-28 06:52

The upcoming virtual "Summit for Democracy", to be hosted by the United States, will stoke ideological confrontation and create "division lines" at a time when the world urgently needs to ramp up cooperation to address global challenges, top Chinese and Russian envoys in Washington have said.

In a joint opinion piece, Chinese and Russian ambassadors to the US, Qin Gang and Anatoly Antonov, said the online meeting, scheduled to open on Dec 9, empowers itself to define who is to attend the event and who is not, who is a "democratic country" and who is not eligible for such status.

Calling the US move "an evident product of its Cold-War mentality", the two ambassadors said the event will stoke 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," they wrote on The National Interest journal on Friday, three days after the US published a list of 110 countries and regions invited to participate in the summit.

The ambassadors said that democracy is a universal right of all peoples, not a prerogative of a certain country or a group of countries; and that democracy can be realized in multiple ways, and no model can fit all countries.

The article stressed that a basic criterion of democracy should be about the people: whether they have the right to govern their country, whether their needs are met, and whether they have a sense of fulfillment and happiness.

"If the people are only awakened when casting their votes and sent back to hibernation when the voting is over, if they are served with sweet-sounding slogans in campaigns but have no say after the election, if they are wooed during canvassing but left out in the cold after that, this is not a genuine democracy," the ambassadors wrote.

In the article, both ambassadors briefed readers on the status quo of democracy in their respective countries.

What China has is an extensive, whole-process socialist democracy, which reflects the people's will, suits the country's realities, and enjoys strong support from the people.

In China, policies and measures can only be introduced when there is a consensus that they are what the people want and will serve the people's needs.

While in Russia, democracy is the fundamental principle of its political system and the democratic institutions were further strengthened by the amendments to the Constitution adopted through a referendum in 2020.

The article noted that Russia's political system is evolving steadily and needs a stable and calm environment that guarantees the rights and interests of its people.

"No country has the right to judge the world's vast and varied political landscape by a single yardstick, and having other countries copy one's political system through color revolution, regime change and even use of force goes against international law, and is obviously anti-democratic," the ambassadors wrote.

The envoys said that there has been no shortage of wars and turmoil worldwide to prove that spreading "democracy", its political system, and values against other countries' will severely undermine regional and international peace, security, and stability.

"Bombings of Yugoslavia, military intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, and 'democratic transformation' do nothing but harm," they wrote, adding that countries should focus on running their own affairs well, not "condescendingly" criticizing others.

They said that there is no need to worry about democracy in Russia and China.

"Certain foreign governments better think about themselves and what is going on in their homes. Is it freedom when various rallies in their countries are dispersed with rubber bullets and tear gas? It does not look very much like freedom," they noted.

The ambassadors called attention to the array of global challenges confronting the world, which entails countries urgently to strengthen coordination and cooperation for common progress, especially to counter the pandemic of COVID-19, foster economic development, and neutralize cross-border threats.

"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," they concluded.

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