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Summit of democracies called to push back on strongmen

It is doubtful that Putin will be invited to the summit, although he claims democratic legitimacy. It is not clear whether Biden will include other leaders with tarnished democratic credentials, such as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan or Hungary’s Viktor Orban.

In many cases, such leaders retain the pretence of democratic elections, but the vote is manipulated, the courts and the media are controlled, and political opponents are targeted. The European Union is taking action against Hungary for an anti-LGBT law.

A demonstrator clashes with a police officer during a protest against the jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Russia this year.

A demonstrator clashes with a police officer during a protest against the jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Russia this year.Credit:Victor Berezkin

Whatever the summit’s guest list, the event is likely to be framed in large part as an attempt to unify democratic governments in opposition to China and its efforts to spread its economic, political and military influence.

Biden focused much of his first foreign trip as President on a push to confront China. Meeting with the leaders of the G7 democracies and with members of the EU and NATO in June, Biden sought to rally those alliances to take on China’s behaviour.

China is also mentioned specifically in Biden’s original campaign document pledging to hold the summit, in particular Beijing’s efforts to restrict free speech through control of technology and social media.

“Technology companies – which benefit from the fruits of democracy – should make concrete pledges for how they can ensure their algorithms and platforms are not empowering the surveillance state, facilitating repression in China and elsewhere,” Biden urged on his campaign website.

Representatives of the private sector will be included in the summit, the White House said.

AP

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