Democrats and Republicans launch new sanctions over human rights violations in China. No products are to be imported from Xinjiang in the future.
The USA wants to initiate further sanctions against China because of the oppression of the Muslim Uighur minority. The US House of Representatives passed a law banning imports from China's Xinjiang region for forced labor. The House of Representatives approved the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act with an overwhelming 428-1 vote.
For the law to go into effect it has yet to pass the Senate and be signed by President Joe Biden. Republicans are accusing Democrats of delaying the law because it would complicate President Joe Biden's renewable energy agenda. The White House and the Democrats in Congress deny this. Xinjiang supplies most of the world's solar cell materials.
For years, human rights groups accuse China, the suppression of the Uyghur in Xinjiang region before. The Beijing government has denied allegations that China has set up an extensive network of prison camps for Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities for forced labor. With reference to China's human rights violations, the US announced on Monday that it would not send government representatives to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
The 'democracy summit' begins, with more than 100 world leaders in a virtual meeting launched by Biden
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With such an internal situation, it is worth wondering if the US can face what Biden has described as "the challenge of our time": the decline of democracy worldwide. For two decades, the values of liberal democracy have been in retreat inside and outside the United States. And this virtual meeting, due to Covid-19, attended by more than 100 heads of State and Government from around the world, and several hundred personalities from civil society, will try to lay the foundations to reverse the trend. It is an unprecedented initiative, that was born with the vocation to continue each year. In fact, next year there will be a new 'summit', in which a series of working documents created by the countries attending this meeting will be analyzed. The big question is what will be the path of all this in practice.
Among the countries that have not been invited, the two biggest competitors of the United States in the world, China and Russia, stand out. But also a number of Washington allies , such as Hungary, Singapore, Singapore, and Saudi Arabia. In exchange, governments such as Angola - which has been governed by the same party since it achieved independence from Portugal, 46 years ago - and the Democratic Republic of the Congo come.
Thus, realism collides with democracy. In all political freedom rankings in the world, Hungary is ahead of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and conversely, one wonders how the US is going to contain Iran without the support of Saudi Arabia, or China without that of Singapore. Even though these countries are not democracies.
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That is historically the great paradox of American foreign policy: how to defend democracy in a world in which many allied countries are not democratic. And Biden hasn't broken up with her. The axis of its foreign action is to stop the expansion of China. Which raises, again, the same problem: democracy or realism? Because China never asks questions about human rights in the countries in which it invests.
So the political and strategic reality is very different from the ideological principles. Washington may say that it promotes democracy, but in practice, authoritarian models are spreading. And that touches in a special way its rivalry with China. "When it comes to containing Chinese penetration in Latin America, the United States does not exist," the former vice president of Colombia and former ambassador of that country in Washington Francisco Santos, who today explained in the podcast, when he had already left politics, the Chinese authorities tried to get him to intercede with the Government of Juan Manuel Santos for the latter to hand-deliver a contract to a Chinese company.
Soon after, Santos' son, who is a congressman, had to cancel a trip to Taiwan - which is at the 'summit for democracy', which has not been to Beijing's liking either - due to pressure from China. All those are the policies that, in theory, go against the values of the 'top'. But, at the same time, they are part of a strategy that that country, which is the largest dictatorship in the world, first began in practice during the presidency of George W. Bush, two decades ago, and against which the United States has done a great deal. Little to date.
SHOW THAT "DEMOCRACY STILL WORKS"
The summit lasts two days, during which the Heads of State and Government, representing more than half of the world's countries, will hold a series of closed-door meetings on a series of topics, among which the recovery stands out. democracy and institutions after Covid-19, the fight against corruption, the defense of human rights -including, notably, freedom of expression-, and digitization and its impact on democratic societies will be the main themes of the summit, although, in the end, the key is summarized in what Biden said in his only speech before the US Congress, on April 28: "We have to show that democracy still works, that our government it works and that we can meet the needs of citizens."
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It is, thus, an initiative very much in line with others launched by Biden, such as the alliance with Australia and Great Britain baptized as Aukus, the revitalization of the Quad, of which India, Japan, and Australia are also part, the Council of Commerce and Technology created at the 'summit' with the EU in Pittsburgh in September, or the cybersecurity 'summit' in October. The problem is that the Aukus, the Quad, and the Council of Commerce and Technology have very clear objectives. But the 'summit' for democracy, no.
That has led some skeptics to question its existence. As Stephen Walt, professor at Harvard and, in general, supporter of 'realism' has written in Foreign Policy, a theory that maintains that, in the world arena, countries should maximize their strategic advantages moved only by the reason of state, the The summit "illustrates two recurring problems in US foreign policy: the inability to set clear priorities, and the tendency to proclaim lofty goals that it is later unable to achieve."
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