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Ahead of the U.S.’s “Summit for Democracy,” the Second International Forum on Democracy: The Shared Human Values kicked off on Thursday in Beijing, where over 300 guests from more than 100 countries and regions engaged in extensive discussions on diverse forms of democracy, slamming monistic and hegemonic narratives on the subject.
Discussing the origin, forms and effectiveness of multiple democratic systems, keynote speakers at the opening ceremony shared consensus that true democracy is characterized by dialogue, mutual respect and mutual learning. They stressed the necessity of co-existence of different systems in a community committed to a shared future for mankind.
A dialogue on democracy
The forum offers a platform for all countries to share their thoughts, experiences and practices related to democracy, rather than touting a one-size-fits-all model of democracy.
Li Shulei, a member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, said in his opening speech that democracy is a shared human value, a universal goal pursued by all countries that seek modernization and the bedrock on which building a global community of shared future is based.
To form such a community, all countries should uphold the principle of democracy, advocate democracy in international relations and promote the rule of law in international governance, he added.
Li also stressed that countries should seek common ground, shelve differences and respect every country’s path to democracy, adding that whether a country is democratic or not should be acknowledged by the international community, not arbitrarily by a few self-appointed judges.
“These acts – imposing one’s model of democracy and ‘democratic transformations’ on others, or forming an ‘alliance of values’ in the name of ‘democracy’ vs ‘autocracy’ – create division and antagonism and trample on the democratic spirit, leaving a poisonous legacy despised by their targets,” said Li.
Noting the world is undergoing changes unseen in a century, Gao Xiang, president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that in order to address the common challenges faced by mankind, all countries need to be open and engage in dialogue to ensure that distinctive models of democracy can drive global progress.
Fang Ning, director of the Institute of Political Science at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that democracy shouldn’t be dogmatized. In today’s world, democracy is as diverse and multifaceted as countries themselves and their peoples have created different models of democracy and formed different democratic concepts based on their own experiences and practices, Fang said.
Imposing one’s model of democracy on others can only impede the development of democracy, he added.
According to Du Zhanyuan, the head of China International Publishing Group, a recent survey conducted by the Academy of Contemporary China and World Studies shows that people in 23 countries on five continents generally agree with the idea that “each country should choose a model of democracy and modernization that suits its national conditions,” with an approval rate of 94.3 percent.
Some in the U.S. style their country as the “beacon of democracy,” while Xing Bo, vice president of China Media Group (CMG), said that incidents, such as the toxic train derailment in Ohio, child labor and police violence against African Americans, show that the U.S. is deviating from democracy.
Calling for breaking the hegemony of the Western discourse and providing more positive energy for global governance, Xing said CMG is open to mutual learning and walking hand in hand with friends from other countries to spread democracy as an important achievement of human political civilization.(CGTN)