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South Korea rebuts China's criticism of Summit for Democracy

By Ji Da-gyum

Published : March 19, 2024 - 17:55

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South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol (right) and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) shake hands during the 3rd Summit for Democracy, at a hotel in Seoul, Monday. (Presidential office via Yonhap) South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol (right) and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) shake hands during the 3rd Summit for Democracy, at a hotel in Seoul, Monday. (Presidential office via Yonhap)

South Korea's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday dismissed China's criticism of Seoul hosting the Summit for Democracy and airing the Taiwan digital minister's virtual speech, clarifying that the summit is not aimed at singling out specific countries.

"The Summit for Democracy is convened to contribute to the promotion of democracy and human rights, but it is not aimed at targeting any specific countries," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lim Soo-suk said during a regular briefing.

"Democracy is not about ideological confrontations but rather a matter of universal values for humanity," Lim added.

Seoul expressed regret following the public backlash by the Chinese Foreign Ministry to the third Summit for Democracy hosted by the Yoon Suk Yeol government in Seoul from Monday to Wednesday. The summit, initiated by the United States, passed the baton to South Korea to host the event single-handedly this year.

Chinese Foreign Ministry's spokesperson Lin Jian on Monday said "China consistently opposes the instrumentalization and weaponization of democracy issues in principle," in response to inquiries about the country's position on the Summit for Democracy.

Lin also underscored China's firm opposition to South Korea's invitation of figures from Taiwan to the international gathering, urging South Korea to adhere to the One China principle and abstain from providing platforms for or drawing attention to "Taiwan independence forces."

In response, Lim on Tuesday underscored that the South Korean "government's position of respecting One China remains unchanged."

Seoul also defended the unannounced virtual participation of Taiwan's Minister of Digital Affairs Audrey Tang during the multi-stakeholder roundtable on Monday.

"The screening of pertinent footage during yesterday's expert roundtable conference was carried out in consideration of our government's fundamental stance, as well as comprehensive factors including precedents set by the first and second Summit for Democracy," Lim said during Tuesday's press briefing.

Tang emphasized the dedication to safeguarding democracy amid the challenges presented by advancing technologies, notably artificial intelligence, in a video address during the second session titled "Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Technologies: Right-Respecting Innovation in Democratic Societies."

However, a South Korean emcee clarified that Tang spoke in her capacity as an expert on the topic before airing the live-broadcast video message.

"The third edition of this global gathering of like-minded partners is of great importance, given the challenges posed by AI and emerging technologies," Tang said.

"Let's cooperate closely in making 2024 the year of the Democratic bounce-back, in which freedom, human rights and peace are advanced for all."

Taiwan's Minister of Digital Affairs Audrey Tang delivered a video message during the multi-stakeholder roundtable of the Summit for Democracy on Monday. (Screenshot from the official YouTube Channel of The 3rd Summit For Democracy) Taiwan's Minister of Digital Affairs Audrey Tang delivered a video message during the multi-stakeholder roundtable of the Summit for Democracy on Monday. (Screenshot from the official YouTube Channel of The 3rd Summit For Democracy)