Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying’s Regular Press Conference on August 20, 2021
Hua Chunying: The major changes in Afghanistan once again show that democracy imposed and transplanted by others will not last or be firm. I learned from news today that one of the people who died after falling from the landing gear of a US plane was 19-year-old Afghan national team football player Zaki Anwari. This is heart-breaking.
Facts show that democracy cannot be predetermined or overstretched. There is no set model of democracy. To give you an analogy, cold milk on a daily basis doesn’t agree with a Chinese stomach and chopsticks are not often used by Americans. A meal of hamburger or steak with fork and knife is not the only way to get one well fed. Democracy is not Coca-Cola, which, with the syrup produced by the United States, tastes the same across the world. Many Chinese prefer Beijing-based soda drink branded Arctic Ocean.
What is democracy? Who gets to define it? How to judge whether a country is democratic? These rights should not be monopolized by the US and its few allies. For us, a key criterion is whether the country can meet people’s expectations, needs and aspirations. In this sense, Chinese democracy is people’s democracy while the US’ is money democracy; the Chinese people enjoy substantial democracy while Americans have democracy only in form; China has a whole-process democracy while the US has voting democracy that comes every four years.
China’s socialist democracy is whole-process and the most broad-based. It reflects people’s will, suits China’s realities and is acclaimed by the people. The Communist Party of China represents the fundamental interests of all the Chinese people. It has no special interests of its own and has never represented the interests of any interest group, group of power, or privileged class. China puts the people front and center. The fundamental criteria for assessing all the work we do is whether we can win people’s backing, approval and endorsement, and make them satisfied. China strives to solve the most practical and immediate problems of the greatest concern to the people. All major legislative decisions in China are made in accordance with procedures, through democratic deliberation, and through scientific and democratic decision-making. For example, when formulating the 14th Five-Year Plan, the Chinese government paid great attention to soliciting opinions from all sides. More than one million opinions and suggestions were collected online alone. Thanks to China’s commitment to democracy of the people, the Chinese people have unleashed their amazing creativity and productivity, creating two miracles of rapid economic growth and long-term social stability in a huge country with a population of 1.4 billion. The Chinese people’s satisfaction and approval rate of the Chinese government has been above 95% for years.
But the US has been seeing “one person, one vote” as the supreme form of democracy, which is very narrow-minded. The US elections, manipulated by interest groups, are money politics meaning “no money, no votes”. Unlike the Communist Party of China that puts the interests of the country and the people first, American politicians put their votes first and focus on the votes four or even two years from now. When tens of thousands of American people are struggling against COVID-19, the two parties are attacking each other ferociously and putting their own political interests above people’s life and health. The loss of more than 600,000 American lives still cannot awaken their conscience and responsibility. Over the past thirty or forty years, the rich in the US have become richer and the poor poorer. The top one percent own, govern and have it all. Is this democracy? People like George Floyd cannot breathe, gun violence runs rampant and racial discrimination and hate crimes are deeply entrenched. To whom the US belongs? Can the US government win support from half of its people? Which party in the US can represent the interests of all American people? American political scientist Francis Fukuyama recently wrote that the difference in COVID-19 response has shown limited state capacity, low social trust, poor political leadership and other signs of democratic deterioration. Look at the consequence of US promotion of the American democracy across the world. In which intervened country have the people enjoyed real peace, security, freedom and democracy? Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan?
Democracy should be tangible rather than empty slogans. It should not become spiritual opium that fools or numbs the people, still less an excuse for attacking and smearing other countries and maintaining one’s own hegemony. Ganging up in the name of democracy, wantonly interfering in other country’s internal affairs and even arbitrarily suppressing normal development of other countries and people’s legitimate right to better lives is more undemocratic than anything else. It is autocracy, hegemony and totalitarianism. Zaki Anwari’s fallen, American myth down. More and more people are awakening.
Recently, the international community has had heated discussions about the US’ military intervention and foreign policy over the past years.
Some US media commented that from the “Vietnam Syndrome” in the last century to the “Afghanistan Syndrome” today, the US once and again tries to mould other countries according to its own will. This has led the US into disastrous abyss time and again.
I also saw the article you mentioned. Professor Sachs pointed out in the article that almost every modern US military intervention in the developing world has come to rot. It’s hard to think of an exception since the Korean War, be it Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in Southeast Asia, Iraq, Syria and Libya in the Middle East, Latin America, Africa, or today’s Afghanistan. Professor Sachs also said that less than 2% of the US spending on Afghanistan, and probably far less than 2%, reached the Afghan people in the form of basic infrastructure or poverty-reducing services. The US could have worked with other countries to invest in clean water, sanitation, school buildings, clinics, agriculture and many other programs to lift the country from economic deprivation, and foster a more stable and prosperous Afghanistan. Yet American leaders go out of their way to emphasize to the American public that they won’t waste money on such trivialities. The American political class and mass media hold the people of these nations in contempt, even as they intervene relentlessly and recklessly in those countries. What they left behind is only wars, killings and displacement.
British scholar Martin Jacques noted in a recent article that military power has been fundamental to America’s global role. America has long believed that overweening military strength was the primary factor in enabling it to get its way in the world. Since 1945, it has set up nearly 800 military bases in over 70 countries across the whole world. In every case of US military intervention overseas, though it enjoys great military advantage, it failed anyway. This is because what really matters is people’s approval, not military advantage.
Facts have repeatedly shown that military intervention leads nowhere, and that the use of power and solving problems with power and military means would only lead to even more problems. The copy of American democracy model can hardly fit or stand in a country with distinctively different history, culture and national conditions, which will end up in failure.
There was an anti-Vietnam War song in the 1970s in which the lyrics read “Let Saigons be bygones”. But regrettably, history is repeating itself in Kabul. The Chinese people often say that a fall into the pit, a gain in the wit. The US has fallen into the pit for too many times. It is time for it to gain some wit. The US should deeply reflect on its wrong policy of belligerence and forsaking commitments, think seriously about its responsibilities for the world and stop undermining world peace and creating instability.
There is indeed a fundamental difference between Taiwan and Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a sovereign state, while Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. The one-China principle is a red and bottom line that cannot be crossed. China must and will be reunified. No one should underestimate the strong determination, firm will and strong capability of the Chinese people to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
I noticed that British scholar Martin Jacques recently said, the US enjoys massive military advantage in each case of Iraq, Afghanistan and so on. But in all circumstances, it failed in the end. The key to the victory of a war is to win over the people instead of military superiority. The US must have drawn many lessons in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Under the current circumstances, the top priority for the international community is to help and encourage different factions and ethnic groups in Afghanistan to strengthen solidarity, find an open and inclusive political framework that is accepted by the Afghan people and is in line with the people’s interests and national conditions and achieve smooth political transition as soon as possible. Efforts should be made to avoid a new civil war, humanitarian disaster and unnecessary casualties, and prevent causing a large number of refugees.
On the 19th, the Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid issued a statement on social media that the Afghan Taliban has announced the establishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. We have taken note of the Afghan Taliban’s statement. We have also noticed that parties in Afghanistan are still holding consultations on the future political framework. China’s position on the Afghan issue is clear and consistent. We hope Afghanistan can form an open, inclusive and broadly-based government, uphold moderate and prudent domestic and foreign policies and respond to the shared aspiration of the Afghan people and the international community.