By Allawi Ssemanda.
Last week, just hours after the U.S President Joe Biden met with his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping in San Francisco. Biden described this meeting as “some of the most productive” talks before he announced on his X account resumption of military-to-military communications. However, while responding to a question from a CNN journalist, president Biden then called Chinese President Xi Jinping a dictator.
How do we explain this rapid transition from ‘productive talks’ to ‘dictator’? Typical of American leaders, this looks like a case of libidodominandi – a Latin phrase for desire to dominate others, Biden premised his wrong conclusion that Xi is a dictator simply because he is “a guy who runs a country that is a communist country that’s based on a form of government totally different than ours.” Of course, his reasoning is laughable. It is not a surprise that it left America’s top diplomat Anthony Blinken visibly incredulous.
Biden wrongfully assumes that he and the U.S alone have exclusive rights to define what democracy is. Accordingly, whoever challenges their hegemony and imperialistic ambitions in favour of a fair and world where all countries are equal as UN charter demands is undemocratic.
This wrong assumption has seen the U.S over the years present itself as the beacon of “democracy” and on different occasions, Washington has gone extra mile to coerce and impose its so-called values on other sovereign countries, a practice that has caused untold suffering and left millions of people dead, displaced others on top causing anarchy as we saw in Iraq, Libya among others.
That said, Biden’s basis of branding Xi a dictator simply because President Xi is a leader of a country “based on a form of government totally different than ours” reminded me of King Louis XIV’s infamous; “it is legal because I wish it.” Of course, this is big brother mentality is a thing of past and shows how selfish U.S politicians can be.
My concern with Biden’s wrong view of Chinese leadership is not just that his top diplomat Blinken was visibly not happy with it; my concern is that Biden’s reason is an insult to collective intelligence of scholars and those who follow current affairs. It is an insult because Biden assumes that our collective intelligence is blind to the fact that U.S’ endgame has never and is not about to be creating conditions for a fair world which is peaceful, free from America’s hegemony, cold war mentality, power politics and block confrontations!
It is not about democracy as Biden claimed, and it is not about human rights or respecting international law or sovereignty of other countries. For the U.S, all that matter is their libidodominand! On the other hand, China is arguably the world’s champion when it comes to observance of international law. Indeed, unlike the U.S, China has never invaded any country; has never started a war against other country; has never imposed leadership on any country against the wish of citizens which all shows characteristics of bad and dictatorial leadership.
Put differently, the U.S desire has never been good governance or democracy as Biden claimed. Going by assertions of U.S’ founding father, George Washington; “No nation is to be trusted farther than it is bound by interest; and no prudent statesman or politician will venture to depart from it…unless both [nations’] interests happen to be assimilated.”
That said, it is also disrespectful of Biden to assume he or the U.S alone have exclusive patent when it comes to deciding which country is democratic or otherwise. America’s colonial and hegemonic mentality has always created disastrous effects. We have seen in all the countries the U.S. has gone to spread its so-called democracy and values. But who chose Biden or the U.S. to judge which country is democratic?
Biden should be reminded of Abraham Lincoln’s definition of democracy; ‘government of the people, by the people and for the people.’ With this, if people of China are comfortable with their government, where does Biden get the audacity to brand the Country’s leadership ‘dictatorial’? Is Biden implying anything not American is wrong even when citizens of that country approve it? If that is his reasoning, in real sense, save that being illusional, then Biden is the world’s chief dictator for lack of better description of his disrespect of other countries’ values.
Poll after poll in the U.S indicates that American population do not believe in their country’s much praised democracy. For example, 2021 Pew Research Centre found that just “17% of Americans” believe democracy in the U.S. is a good example for others to follow, … while 23% do not believe it has ever been a good example.”
Also, a 2022 January NPR/Ipsos Poll found that “64% of Americans believe U.S. democracy is “in crisis and at risk of failing.” Similarly, in October 2022, a Quinnipiac University poll concluded that “69% of Democrats and 69% of Republicans think the nation’s democracy is on the brink of collapse.” Interestingly, the same study found that even among the so-called independents, 66%, had similar view of America’s democracy!
China under the ‘undemocratic’ President Xi Jinping and Communist Party of China (CPC) has surging support back home! For example, York University (Canada) study found that 98% of Chinese believe in their government. With such facts at hand, one wonders where Biden basses his unsubstantiated claims and the cause of such? Put differently, isn’t his baseless claim an insult to majority of Chinese people who approve President Xi’s governance and therefore a sign of intolerance which is a typical character of dictatorship Biden claims to be against? Also, Biden’s claim that President Xi is a dictator simply because China is a communist country shows how the U.S’ view of a world is very narrow which disregards diversity of civilizations and humanity which itself is a sign of being a dictator.
It is high time president Biden realised the need for countries to work together while upholding key principles of equality, mutual learning, and inclusiveness among civilizations, and let cultural exchanges transcend estrangement, mutual learning transcends clashes, and inclusiveness transcend any sense of superiority. He should interest himself in Global Civilization Initiative (GCI) which President Xi introduced in March this year as another important public good in the new era. The GCI which has so far received a warm welcome in the international community, advocates the respect for the diversity of civilizations, the common values of humanity, the importance of inheritance and innovation of civilizations, and robust international people-to-people exchanges and cooperation.
Allawi Ssemanda is a Senior Research Fellow at the Development Watch Centre.