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Joe Biden’s ‘Democracy’ Summit’ is another trap

Joe Biden, Democracy Summit, Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, QUAD, China, Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, US, India

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Joe Biden’s ‘Democracy’ Summit’ is another trap

This December, President Joe Biden is going to host a ‘Democracy Summit’ with the ulterior motive of intensifying his delusion of further strengthening the anti-China bloc, while experts are already expressing doubts stating whether it will have any lasting impact.

According to media reports, Biden aides are still shaping the agenda for the December 9-10 virtual summit, and much of their work is confidential. Although the so-called list of invited governments has not been made public, a section of anti-Bangladesh individuals are already spreading lies stating Bangladesh has not been invited in this event. So-called journalist and a fugitive named Tasneem Khalil has been leading the anti-Bangladesh propaganda sitting in Sweden. This man in particular has even been making claims that the Biden administration is not going to include Bangladesh in the summit.

In fact, reality is totally opposite.

Joe Biden and his administration has been vigorously trying to get Bangladesh on board in their anti-China bloc named the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD). India has enthusiastically joined this block thinking it would serve their purpose of “isolating China” globally as well letting India emerge as a regional “super power” under the blessings of the US. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government has smartly maintained distance from QUAD, as joining such bloc would seriously hamper Bangladesh’s own interest and its growing relations with China. It may be mentioned here that China has been a solid partner particularly in infrastructural projects in Bangladesh, while there also is hope of significant increase in Chinese investment in the country. For Bangladesh, joining QUAD would be a disastrous decision as neither the US or India have the capability of investing billions of dollars in Bangladesh. Moreover, joining any bloc against a country goes against the constitutional spirit of Bangladesh.

As to the December 9-10 summit, Biden administration said, the summit

One, somewhat vague initiative the Biden team has discussed launching during the summit is an international alliance to promote internet freedom — called “The Alliance for the Future of the Internet”.

Overall, the variety of ideas underscores Biden’s view that strengthening the world’s democracies at a time of rising authoritarianism requires tools beyond mere rhetoric about free-and-fair elections. Biden is, after all, hosting the summit during a year that has seen at least six coups in countries from Myanmar to Sudan.

Experts are skeptical about the result of this summit as it is far from clear how many countries would attend it and sign up for commitments or how many will follow through. Although none of the suggested commitments appear to be internationally binding, many will require governments to sell them to constituencies back home and allocate funding to making them real. That’s also true in the United States, where a polarized political environment has blocked Biden’s efforts to push through priorities such as voting rights legislation.

“The symbolism of the gathering is important, but the actual change on the ground that the summit would generate remains to be seen”, said Steven Feldstein, a senior fellow with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “There are a lot of big questions on the table that the initial gathering won’t address, like what to do about weaker democracies that are showing regression”,

The alliance’s core principles would include: a collective commitment to develop and implement high standards for data privacy, data security and cyber security; a commitment to cooperation on tech platform regulation and information integrity; and commitment to establish a forum for technical cooperation on cybersecurity standards and incident response.

In addition, the proposal calls for a commitment to ensuring open and interoperable access for software and apps among members; non-discrimination in domestic regulations; and shared commitments regarding data localization.

Anyone may wonder what is the ultimate or hidden agenda of the December 9-10 summit. In my opinion, the way US administration did not clearly proclaim the agenda behind formation of QUAD, although it is understood the only reason behind the initiative of this bloc is to put pressure on China, the real agenda behind December 9-10 summit would also be used as a tool of undue interference on domestic issues of the countries which would join and sign the summit charter.

For Bangladesh, it is a better idea to remain aloof from it.

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An internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, research-scholar, counter-terrorism specialist, and editor of Blitz. Follow his on Twitter Salah_Shoaib

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