Biden’s democracy summit all about disinviting China

United States President Joe Biden is presiding over a “Summit for Democracy” today (December 9), a remote video meeting meant to both highlight and critique democratic practices worldwide. It’s also an indirect slap at two uninvited countries: China and Russia.

The criterion for inviting governments – at 110 at last count – mainly relied on one criterion: holding elections. While elections are fundamental to democracy, other civil rights – free speech, a fair judiciary and unfettered media, for instance – are usually considered part of the package. In that context, some of the inclusions are at odds with democratic norms.

The US State Department prepared the invitation list, acknowledged that contradiction and defended the expansive guest list on two grounds: the need to build a diverse collection of countries coupled with a desire that even laggards promise to do better.

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