American Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasising the “shared values” of India and the United States as two democracies, during his visit to India on Wednesday, brought a sharp response from Beijing.
Mr. Blinken, at his meeting with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, said: “There is greater imperative than ever on cooperation, coordination, collaboration among countries, especially among countries who share basic perspectives, basic values, and basic interests.
“And that is certainly the case with the United States and India,” he said underlining a theme that found frequent mention during his events on Wednesday.
A question from an American media outlet during a daily press briefing in Beijing on Wednesday, about Mr. Blinken speaking of two of the world’s democracies standing in support of shared ideals at a time of a rising global threat to democracy even if he did not directly name China, brought a long and sharp response from Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian.
“I want to stress that democracy is a common value shared by all, not a patent owned by any country,” said Mr. Zhao. “To achieve democracy, there are various ways rather than a fixed formula or a standard answer. ‘One-man, one-vote’ and a multi-party system is not the sole form of democracy. Democracy should not be used as a label or tool to belittle or smear other countries or stoke confrontations. Which country is a democracy and which an autocracy should not be determined by a very small number of countries. Debasing others while elevating oneself in itself is not democratic at all.”
Mr. Zhao appeared to hit out at the U.S. indirectly. “Some self-proclaimed democracies are deeply troubled at home by wealth disparity, social division, racial divide and political polarisation,” he said, referring to themes often mentioned in the Chinese official media’s critical coverage of the U.S.
“Is that how their so-called democracy looks like?” he continued. “In some countries, it’s ‘no money, no vote’ and partisan interests above public interests. Is that democratic politics or money politics? Some countries blatantly meddle in other countries’ domestic affairs, shift blames and suppress and contain other countries’ development. Is this what the so-called democracy is all about? Is this democracy or actually hegemony?”
The spokesperson said in China’s view “the key yardstick to measure a political system lies in whether it suits the national conditions of a country, whether it brings about political stability, social progress and betterment of people’s livelihood, whether it is supported by its own people, and whether it makes contribution to the cause of human progress.”