How Does Inviting Autocrats to the White House Make Asia More Free?

By John Sifton
22 April 2022

The upcoming U.S.-ASEAN special summit stands in jarring juxtaposition to last year’s “Summit for Democracy” — to which most ASEAN states didn’t merit an invitation.

The summit stands in jarring juxtaposition to last year’s “Summit for Democracy,” and the administration’s rhetoric about human rights and democracy, including in Blinken’s speech inviting ASEAN to the United States.

The Biden administration needs to adopt more coherent principles for supporting nations in Asia without sacrificing the promotion of human rights. A key problem in the Biden administration’s Asia rhetoric is that it too often conflates human freedoms and rights with the “freedoms” and “rights” of governments not to be coerced by other governments (i.e., by the Chinese government). When Blinken in December cited a “rules-based order” in Asia meant to “protect the right of all countries to choose their own path, free from coercion, free from intimidation,” he was not talking about human freedoms. He was dressing up “countering the Chinese government” in the language of liberty.


April 22, 2022|Blog|