Pakistan “Iron Brother”, as Islamabad has declined an invitation to the Biden administration’s “Summit for Democracy”.
Chinese Foreign Office spokesman Lijian Zhao had hailed Islamabad’s decision to decline an invitation to the Biden administration’s “Summit for Democracy” this week, calling it a “real iron brother” for doing so.
Biden has invited Taiwan to the summit, a move that infuriated China, which views the democratically governed island as its territory.
The first-of-its-kind gathering is a test of President Joe Biden’s assertion — announced in his first foreign policy address in office in February — that he would return the United States to global leadership to face down authoritarian forces led by China and Russia.
There are 110 participants on the State Department’s invitation list for the virtual event on December 9 and 10, which aims to help stop democratic backsliding and the erosion of rights and freedoms worldwide. The list does not include China or Russia.
Pakistan this week declined the invitation to the summit, saying it would “engage on this subject [democracy] at an opportune time in the future.” At a press briefing on Thursday, a spokesperson for the Pakistani foreign office said it was “considered decision” by Islamabad not to attend.
“Pakistan declined to attend democracy summit,” Lijian tweeted. “A real iron brother!”
The invite for Taiwan comes as China has stepped up pressure on countries to downgrade or sever relations with the island, which is considered by Beijing to have no right to the trappings of a state. Self-governed Taiwan says Beijing has no right to speak for it.
Sharp differences over Taiwan persisted during a virtual meeting last month between Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
While Biden reiterated long-standing US support for the “One China” policy under which it officially recognizes Beijing rather than Taipei, he also said he “strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the status quo or undermine peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” the White House said.
Xi said that those in Taiwan who seek independence, and their supporters in the United States, were “playing with fire,” according to state news agency Xinhua.
Rights groups question if Biden’s Summit for Democracy can push those world leaders who are invited, some accused of harboring authoritarian tendencies, to take meaningful action.