A group of senior lawmakers from eight democracies including the U.S. have launched a new cross-parliamentary alliance to help counter what they say is the threat China’s growing influence poses to global trade, security and human rights.
The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, which launched Friday, comes as the U.S. struggles to muster a cohesive alliance to take on China’s growing economic and diplomatic clout and as it leads foreign governments in condemning Beijing’s move to impose national security legislation on Hong Kong that threatens the city’s autonomy.
The group said it aims to “construct appropriate and coordinated responses, and to help craft a proactive and strategic approach on issues related to the People’s Republic of China.” U.S. Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Democrat Bob Menendez, former Japanese defense minister Gen Nakatani, European Parliament foreign affairs committee member Miriam Lexmann and prominent U.K. Conservative lawmaker Iain Duncan Smith are all co-chairs of the newly launched group.
“China, under the rule of Chinese Communist Party, represents a global challenge,” Rubio, a frequent critic of Beijing and supporter of U.S. legislation targeting China over its actions in Hong Kong, said in a video message on Twitter.
Beijing has repeatedly stressed that the situation in Hong Kong is an internal matter, while saying China’s broader economic and diplomatic expansion poses no threat to the world.
“We urge a small number of politicians to respect facts, respect the basic rules of international relations, abandon a Cold War mentality, stop interfering in domestic affairs and making political moves for selfish interests,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular news briefing in Beijing Friday.
The alliance said China’s economic rise is putting the global, rules-based order under pressure and that countries that have tried to stand up to Beijing have mostly done so alone — and “often at great cost.” The list of participating nations includes the U.S., Germany, U.K., Japan, Australia, Canada, Sweden, Norway, as well as members of the European parliament.
Several of those nations have faced intense economic or political consequences for crossing China’s strategic ambitions.
The Trump administration’s assertive efforts to rewrite the bilateral trade relationship with China have prompted a protracted trade war that has had global consequences, while other efforts have seen U.S. journalists ejected from China.
Canada saw two of its citizens — Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor — detained without trial as a result of the arrest of a Chinese Huawei Technologies Co. executive. Norway saw trade relations with China derailed for six years — and salmon exports plummet — after a Chinese dissident was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Australia’s efforts to hold China accountable for the Covid-19 pandemic, which first broke out in the mainland city of Wuhan, have led to new tariffs on Australian barley and bans on some meat.
“The time has come for democratic countries to unite in a common defense of our shared values,” Smith, the U.K. lawmaker, said on Twitter.