According to a list of participants published on Tuesday, the Biden administration has invited Taiwan to its “Summit for Democracy” next month, a move that is likely to enrage China, which considers the democratically governed island to be its territory.
The first-of-its-kind gathering will put President Joe Biden’s pledge, made in his first foreign policy address as president in February, to restore the United States to global leadership in the face of authoritarian forces led by China and Russia to the test.
The State Department has invited 110 people to the virtual event on December 9 and 10, which aims to help stop democratic backsliding and the erosion of rights and freedoms around the world. China and Russia are not on the list. more info
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry stated that the government would be represented in Washington by Digital Minister Audrey Tang and Hsiao Bi-khim, Taiwan’s de facto ambassador.
“Our country’s invitation to participate in the ‘Summit for Democracy’ is an affirmation of Taiwan’s long-standing efforts to promote democratic and human rights values,” the ministry added.
The invitation to Taiwan comes as China has increased pressure on countries to downgrade or sever relations with the island, which Beijing believes has no right to the trappings of a state.
Taiwan, which is self-governed, claims Beijing has no right to speak for it.
Sharp differences over Taiwan remained during a virtual meeting between Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier this month.
While Biden reiterated the United States’ long-standing support for the “One China” policy, which recognizes Beijing rather than Taipei, he also stated that he “strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” according to the White House.
According to state news agency Xinhua, Xi said that those in Taiwan seeking independence, as well as their supporters in the United States, are “playing with fire.”
Rights groups are skeptical that Biden’s Summit for Democracy will compel the world leaders who have been invited, some of whom have been accused of harboring authoritarian tendencies, to take meaningful action.
According to the State Department’s list, the event will bring together mature democracies like France and Sweden, as well as countries like the Philippines, India, and Poland, where activists say democracy is under threat.
Some US allies in Asia, such as Japan and South Korea, were invited, while others, such as Thailand and Vietnam, were not. Other notable absences included Egypt, a US ally, and Turkey, a NATO member. The Middle East will be represented sparingly, with Israel and Iraq the only two countries invited.