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The US Government invites Taiwan to its ‘Summit for Democracy’

By Humeyra Pamuk

WASHINGTON, Nov 23 (Reuters) – The United States government has invited Taiwan to its “Summit for Democracy” next month, according to a list of participants released on Tuesday, a move that is likely to infuriate China, which it believes the democratically governed island part of its territory.

The first such meeting is a testament to US President Joe Biden’s promise, announced in his first foreign policy speech in February, that he would return world leadership to the United States to confront authoritarian forces led by China and Russia.

On the guest list of the US State Department for the virtual event to be held on December 9 and 10 there are 110 participants, whose objective is to help stop the decline of democracy and the erosion of rights and freedoms in all the world. The list does not include China or Russia.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said its government would be represented by Digital Affairs Minister Audrey Tang and Hsiao Bi-khim, Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to Washington.

“Our country’s invitation to participate in the ‘Summit for Democracy’ is an affirmation of Taiwan’s efforts to promote the values ​​of democracy and human rights over the years,” the ministry added.

The invitation to Taiwan comes at a time when China has stepped up pressure on countries to downgrade or break their relations with the island, which Beijing believes is not entitled to the attributes of a state.

Taiwan, which has its own government, says that Beijing has no right to speak on its behalf.

The sharp differences over Taiwan persisted during a virtual meeting earlier this month between Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Although Biden reiterated US support for the “one China” policy, under which he officially recognizes Beijing and not Taipei, he also said that he “strongly opposes unilateral efforts to change the ‘status quo.’ or undermine peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, “the White House said.

Xi said Taiwanese aspiring to independence, and their supporters in the United States, were “playing with fire,” according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

Various human rights groups wonder if Biden’s “Democracy Summit” could move invited world leaders, some of them accused of harboring authoritarian tendencies, to take meaningful action.

(Information from Humeyra Pamuk; additional information from Ben Blanchard in Taipei; edited by Peter Cooney and Michael Perry)

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