Chinese and foreign experts reiterate diversity of democracy at intl seminar
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT
Chinese and foreign experts at an international seminar reiterated on Wednesday that there is no single democratic model and democracy cannot be exported to other countries. The event was hosted by a Chinese University in Central China’s Hunan Province against the backdrop of the attempts by the US to promote its own model globally at the upcoming “summit of democracy.”
The online seminar, under the theme Diversity of Democracy: Systems and Practices Across States, was organized by the Human Rights Center of China’s Central South University on Wednesday with the participation of renowned experts and scholars from many countries who shared their views on the diversity of democracy.
For many years, countries have had different and diverse democratic procedures with distinctive models to realize democracy. Such procedures and democratic models from each country should be respected, which is the foundation for democratic diversity, Mao Junxiang, professor and Executive Director of the Central South University Human Rights Center, noted on Wednesday.
“The Western democratic system is rational and has promoted the modernization process of Western countries for hundreds of years. But this does not mean that countries in other regions must transplant Western democracy. It is not democratic in itself to force other countries to promote a certain type of democracy or require all countries to adopt a certain model of democracy,” Mao said, noting that “promoting one model of democracy by force and requiring every country in the world to promote one kind of democracy is not democracy. There is no single democratic model that suits all the world.”
Fabio Marcell, Director of Research at the Institute for International Legal Studies of the National Research Council of Italy, pointed out during the seminar that the US wanted to export its democracy to Iraq because Iraq was, in their view, an undemocratic country at the time.
Iraq was invaded by US forces in 2003 during the administration of President George W. Bush. But 18 years later, the Washington has failed in its attempt to export democracy to Iraq, contrary to the basic spirit of international law, Marcell noted.
From December 9 to 10, US President Joe Biden will host a virtual summit for “leaders from government, civil society and the private sector,” to discuss key themes that include “defending against authoritarianism” and “promoting respect for human rights,” according to a statement from the US State Department.
Experts criticized the US’ attempt to “revive” Western democracy amid mounting problems in the US and other Western countries, noting that this is a huge irony and the so-called “democracy summit” is nothing about democracy but a division of the world into different blocs and a promotion of US’ hegemony.
Mehmet Okyayuz, associate professor of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at the Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences of the Middle East Technical University, noted at the seminar that the participation of citizens plays a central role in democratic life and is indispensable for the possibility for social actors to influence political decisions.
Since March 2020, many Western democracies have been lambasted for their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. People are talking more openly about the diversity and the concept of democracy, and there are a numerous forums and seminars about it.
Russian Ambassador to China, Andrey Denisov, noted in a previous interview with the Global Times that some Western diplomats also disagree in private with the way that the US categorizes democracy but they are just too embarrassed to say it out loud.
“Democracy is not for decoration but for solving people’s problems. Whether a country is democratic or not depends on whether its people rule it, have the right to vote, and more importantly, have the right to participate widely,” Liu Ming, associate professor of the Zhou Enlai School of Government of Nankai University, said at the seminar.
Some Chinese experts also shared their views on China’s democratic model.
Peng Qinxuan, associate research professor at Wuhan University, noted that the theory, discourse, rule formation and supervision process of the current international human rights system, all lack real democracy which directly damages the legitimacy of the system.
“But China’s concept of ‘a community with a shared future for mankind’ can help solve the problem and promote a human rights system with genuine democracy and justice,” said Peng.