Korea has a seat at Biden's first democracy summit
U.S. President Joe Biden is scheduled to convene a Summit for Democracy next month, the first of its kind, to try to rally allies and friends against authoritarian forces.
Biden will host a virtual summit Dec. 9 and 10 for leaders of government, civil society, and the private sector to “provide a platform for leaders to make both individual and collective commitments to defend democracy and human rights at home and abroad,” according to the U.S. State Department in a summary of the meeting.
The summit is expected to include more than 100 countries, including East Asian allies South Korea and Japan, Reuters reported Monday.
The summit is a part of Biden’s campaign pledge that the United States would return to global leadership after the “America First” policies of the Donald Trump administration, and take on authoritarian forces led by China and Russia.
A tentative invite list released by Politico shows U.S. allies around the world such as Korea are invited, although other partners in Asia like Thailand and Vietnam are not. Australia, New Zealand, India, the Philippines and Taiwan were included in the tentative list, as well as many U.S. allies in NATO such as France, Germany and Sweden.
Some questioned the invitation of some countries where democracy is under threat, such as the Philippines and Poland.
Reuters reported that the December summit is just the “launch” of a longer conversation on democracy. To be invited to a follow-up summit planned for next year, countries will need to follow through on pledges made in the first.
“We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again,” Biden said in his first foreign policy address on Feb. 4. “American leadership must meet this new moment of advancing authoritarianism, including the growing ambitions of China to rival the United States and the determination of Russia to damage and disrupt our democracy.”
He went onto pledge to host a democracy summit early in his administration to “rally the nations of the world to defend democracy globally, to push back the authoritarianism’s advance” and become a “much more credible partner.”
The first summit is expected to tackle the key themes of defending against authoritarianism; addressing and fighting corruption; and advancing respect for human rights, according to the U.S. State Department.
The summit in December will kick off a “year of action” to build a broader community of U.S. partners committed to global democratic renewal. The State Department said the summit aims to show how democracies can deliver on strengthening accountable governance, expanding economic opportunities, protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, and enabling lives of dignity. It also plans to demonstrate how ”open, rights-respecting societies” can work together to tackle challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the climate crisis and growing inequality.
Biden is expected to host the second summit approximately one year later, hopefully in person, to review the progress and “forge a common path ahead.”
Korea has often been put in an awkward situation amid the intensifying Sino-U.S. rivalry. It is unclear what role the United States will ask Korea and other allies to play. Korea has not yet confirmed an invitation to the summit.
President Moon Jae-in and Biden held a brief meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit last week in Rome on Oct. 30. Moon also took part in an event hosted by Biden on global supply chain resilience, another top priority of the U.S. administration amid the U.S.-China trade war, at the G20, attended by 14 U.S. allies on Oct. 31.
Moon was the first leader to speak after Biden's opening remarks, urging an open and fair trade order, and his seat was also directly next to that of the U.S. president.
Since taking the presidency, Biden has been rallying allies to take a tougher stance on China, including on human rights, while messaging that “America is back.”
“Democracy doesn’t happen by accident,” Biden said in a virtual Munich Security Conference last February. “We have to defend it, fight for it, strengthen it, renew it.”
He added, “We must prepare together for a long-term strategic competition with China. How the United States, Europe, and Asia work together to secure the peace and defend our shared values and advance our prosperity across the Pacific will be among the most consequential efforts we undertake.”
Biden then urged for a “global system Europe and the United States, together with our allies in the Indo-Pacific, worked so hard to build over the last 70 years.”
BY SARAH KIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]