What is democracy? If you take a look at the RAE, as a first definition you will find that it is a political system in which sovereignty resides in the people, who exercises it directly or through representatives. But if someone had asked about the SAR at the International Forum on Democracy, which was held this week in Beijing, they would surely be told that it is yet another tool of Western manipulation, anchored in the uprising against the United States, since there is no a single definition of the concept because each country has to follow its ideal model of democracy and adapt it to its conditions.
So let's reformulate the question: What does democracy mean for China? Li Shulei, a member of the Politburo, the highest decision-making body of the Communist Party (CCP), will answer. "Democracy is a shared human value, a universal goal pursued by all countries seeking modernization. China's has been developing on the basis of our national particularities, after attempts to apply various Western models of democracy from 1840".
Li has hosted a forum with 300 guests from a hundred countries that has been Beijing's response to the second edition of the Democracy Summit convened by Joe Biden next Wednesday. In the new Cold War between the two world superpowers, with China in full diplomatic turmoil, the battle of words is also important. For this reason, the Xi Jinping regime does not want Washington to take over the concept of democracy.
China, instead of promoting a new term that adapts to its particular system -and that comes out of the classic negative descriptions of dictatorship or autocracy-, has spent some time trying to reformulate the meaning of democracy without changing a syllable to the word.
On Friday, the CCP-controlled China Daily opened with a survey by the Academy of Contemporary China and World Studies, a Beijing-based think tank: after collecting 9,600 responses in 23 countries worldwide, from From the United Kingdom to Kenya, 88.8% of respondents "reaffirmed the efficiency and effectiveness of the Chinese government." Within China, 98% of respondents said they were "satisfied with the country's democratic situation."
The China of censorship and the repression of freedom of expression, and with all power centralized in the figure of Xi Jinping, takes advantage of these international forums, with friendly guests, to support their system, within the multipolar global courtyard that is boosting, it works much better than that of western decadence. And it also has broad popular support at home.
After reaching a degree of developmentalism and modernity in record time, it is true that many Chinese, who prioritize well-being and collective stability in exchange for giving up certain individual liberties, share the idea that their system is superior to the rest. Putting the lace of "democracy" into these internal debates is a matter of the Beijing propaganda machine, because on the street people do not look for any nice term in the global narrative.
"Incidents such as a toxic train derailment in Ohio, child labor and police violence against African-Americans show that the United States is straying from democracy," Xing Bo, vice president of China Media Group (CMG), said at the forum. Criticism of Washington was the usual trend among the participants in the event. Fred Mmembe, chairman of the Socialist Party of Zambia, said countries in the Global South are beginning to resent and loathe the dictates of American democracy.
"(The United States) has come to teach us democracy. A country that opposed our liberation, a country that supported the colonial regimes, the apartheid regime in South Africa, the Portuguese colonial government in Mozambique... They are the ones who are coming to Africa to teach us about democracy," Mmembe said.
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