HONG KONG – China’s government has gone on the counteroffensive against the United States’ Summit for Democracy in a propaganda campaign replete with newspaper articles, a white paper, a video documentary and doctored images to promote so-called Chinese-style democracy.
US President Joe Biden announced in August he would bring together leaders from a diverse group of the world’s democracies at a virtual Summit for Democracy, to be held on December 9-10 and to be followed in roughly a year’s time by a second, in-person Summit.
On Saturday, the Communist Party of China (CPC) launched its first salvo against the Summit by releasing a White Paper titled China: Democracy That Works.
“China was a country with a feudal history dating back several thousand years that descended into a semi-feudal and semi-colonial society after the Opium War of 1840. Over the past one hundred years, the Party has led the people in realizing people’s democracy in China,” said the White Paper.
“Democracy is a concrete phenomenon that is constantly evolving. Rooted in history, culture and tradition, it takes diverse forms and develops along the paths chosen by different peoples based on their exploration and innovation,” it said.
“Democracy is not a decorative ornament, but an instrument for addressing the issues that concern the people. Democracy is the right of the people in every country, rather than the prerogative of a few nations.”
On Monday, the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at the Renmin University of China published an article titled 10 Questions for American Democracy. It said the death of 800,000 people due to the “inefficiency” of US democracy should be called a “massacre.” It was referring to the number of people who had died from Covid-19 in the US.
“Black men are about 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police over the life course than are white men,” it added. “Even a year after George Floyd’s death which shocked the whole world, the police in the US at least killed 229 black people.”
Many Hispanic Americans and Asians were also killed or discriminated against in the US, the article claimed. There was no democracy in the US as all the country’s decision-makers were rich white people and those who sold guns, drugs and weapons and operated media companies, it added.
On Tuesday, New China Research (NCR), a think tank with the Xinhua News Agency, released a report titled Pursuing Common Values of Humanity – China’s Approach to Democracy, Freedom and Human Rights.
“There is widespread familiarity with the Western notion of democracy characterized by competitive elections between multiple parties and the separation of three powers – executive, legislative and judicial – to define whether or not a country is democratic,” said the NCR.
“But such methods cannot explain how China has managed to produce its two miracles for the benefit of its vast population.”
It said the democracy China practices was a “whole-process democracy” that covered all aspects and all procedures, a “governance democracy” for good governance, an “efficient democracy” with vitality, a “democracy as a driving force” with collective wisdom, and a testable “systematic democracy.”
Xinhua also released a 42-minute documentary video to explain how the Party had improved people’s livelihoods. It said a member of the National People’s Congress had successfully pushed the government to improve working conditions for employees in the food delivery sector.
The video said property owners could express their views in internal meetings, while officials helped fight for their rights. Local governments maintained non-profitable train services to people in rural areas as they knew about the needs of the underprivileged.
Beijing is particularly chagrined that Taiwan has been invited to the Summit. The Global Times, a mouthpiece of China’s state-run People’s Daily, said in an editorial on August 12 that mainland China would definitely not allow Taiwan’s leader Tsai Ing-wen to attend the Summit.
It said the US would have declared war on the “One China” principle if Tsai was allowed to be shown on a screen with other government leaders. It also said if Taiwan was invited, the US had to follow the practice of calling the island “Chinese Taipei.”
Biden, who held a virtual meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on November 24, announced Taiwan had been invited to the Summit, along with 100 countries, but excluded China and Russia.
On the same day, Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said Tsai would not attend the Summit, but Digital Minister Audrey Tang Hsiao Bi-khim and Taiwan representative to the US Hsiao Bi-khim would join in her place. Tang will present a three-minute “national statement” during the event.
Beijing’s state media subsequently changed its strategy and said it would be useless and meaningless for Taiwan to join the Summit.
Timothy Kwai, a pro-Beijing commentator and a member of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, wrote an article published by Taiwan’s EBC News saying there was no value for Taiwan being included the Summit for Democracy, which would be full of empty talk.
Kwai said Taiwan would fail to change Beijing’s decision to ban the island’s fruit imports and investigate mainland-based Taiwanese firms. His article was republished by Cankaoxiaoxi.com, or Reference News, a unit of Xinhua, on Wednesday.
On Sunday, self-exiled Hong Kong activist Nathan Law received an invitation from the Biden administration to be a representative for Hong Kong and to give a speech at the Summit.
In September 2014, Law and then student activists Joshua Wong and Alex Chow were among the leaders of the 79-day Occupy Movement, or Umbrella Movement, that pushed for universal suffrage in Hong Kong.
Law later won a seat in the Legislative Council in 2016, but he and five other legislators were disqualified by the government in an oath-taking controversy.
A few days before the National Security Law was implemented in Hong Kong on June 30 last year, Law fled to the United Kingdom. Two months later, he was wanted by the Hong Kong police for allegedly violating the law as he had called on foreign countries to sanction Hong Kong and Chinese officials.
On Tuesday, Chris Tang said in his blog that Law betrayed Hong Kong for accepting an invitation to speak at the Summit for Democracy. Tang said Law tried to slander the central and Hong Kong governments and spread political lies.
“A person who betrays his own state for foreign countries’ political purposes should be called a ‘Han traitor’,” Tang said Wednesday after a public event. “Law feels happy for betraying the state. I think he should feel ashamed.”
During World War II, the term “Han traitor” was widely used to describe Chinese people who assisted the Japanese army.
In the 1990s, Martin Lee Chu-ming, a former legislator of the Democratic Party, was called a “Han traitor” after he had a discussion with foreign officials about Hong Kong’s democratic developments. Several Chinese state media articles also criticized Law for joining the Summit.
Law tweeted that he did not mind being called a “Han traitor” as he knew that campaigning for human rights was “secession” and “subversion” by Beijing’s definition.
Washington added more fuel to Beijing’s fires on Wednesday when the US House of Representatives passed the Uighur Forced Labor Prevention Act. If it is also passed by the Senate and signed into law by Biden, it will block the import of goods produced in Xinjiang, such as cotton and fruit.
Under the legislation, importers will have to prove their products did not include any materials produced by forced labor in Xinjiang.
Last week Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the so-called “forced labor in Xinjiang” was the “lie of the century.” Zhao said the US’ Uighur Forced Labor Prevention Act was political manipulation that aims to disrupt the stable development in Xinjiang in the name of human rights.
On Wednesday, a Xinhua reporter surnamed Xu published a set of 20 doctored photos poking fun at US’ human rights issues and anti-democracy incidents, including the death of African-American George Floyd, the Capitol protest on January 6 and US soldiers’ disciplinary problems overseas. Xu parodied US democracy as “demon-crazy.”