Yes to Taiwan, no to China, Russia and Turkey. Joe Biden invited some 110 countries and territories to his virtual summit for democracy in December, and the choice of those absent is as much talked about as the present.
Among the guests, whose list was published Tuesday, November 23 on the website of the US State Department, President Biden invited Taiwan, which the United States does not recognize as an independent country but willingly sets up a democratic model in the face of the China, which considers the island as one of its provinces called to return to its fold. Its presence at the virtual summit should therefore maintain the tensions that have ignited in recent weeks around the fate of Taipei.
The American president has not hidden it since his arrival at the White House in January: the fight between democracies and « autocracies », embodied in its eyes by China and Russia, is at the heart of its foreign policy.
Also listen Taiwan, China, United States: the risk of war
A campaign promise
Unsurprisingly, Washington’s main rivals, Beijing and Moscow in the lead, are therefore not on the guest list of this “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.
Turkey, Washington’s ally within NATO but whose President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has in the past been described as“Autocrat” by Joe Biden, is also not among the participating countries.
India, often referred to as “Biggest democracy in the world”, will, however, be present despite frequent criticism from human rights defenders against its Hindu nationalist prime minister Narendra Modi. So is Pakistan, despite a checkered relationship with Washington.
In the Middle East, only Israel and Iraq were invited to this meeting. 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.
Many setbacks against democracy
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 Congo, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and Niger are among the invited countries.
This summit is being organized as democracy has suffered many setbacks in recent months in countries where the United States had placed great hopes: Sudan and Burma, theaters of military coups, Ethiopia, in prey to a conflict that risks making it “Implode” according to American diplomacy, or even Afghanistan, where the Taliban have regained power thanks to the American withdrawal after twenty years of democratization efforts.
The United States itself joined for the first time the list of “Declining democracies” mainly due to a degradation under the Trump era, according to a benchmark report published by the intergovernmental organization International IDEA.