Senior lawmakers from eight countries form alliance to take “tougher stance” on China

Senior lawmakers from eight countries form alliance to take “tougher stance” on China
Source: Brookings

On Thursday, various senior representatives from the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, European Parliament, Sweden and Norway, created a new alliance and launched The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC).

The international coalition announced its intention to counter the challenges posed by China’s growing influence on global trade, security and human rights.

In a statement released on Twitter, the group said China’s global challenge “outlasts individual governments and administrations” as well as “transcends party politics.”

The video also explained that “No country should have to shoulder this burden on their own" and that “No nation should be able to freely jeopardize global values and human rights.”

The group will aim to address policy in five areas. Safeguarding the international rules-based order, upholding human rights, promoting trade fairness, strengthening security and protecting national integrity.

“We cannot continue with business as usual while an estimated million Uighur Muslims are detained extrajudicially in Xinjiang and while Hong Kong’s autonomy and way of life is destroyed,” said a member of the UK’s Labour Party and co-chairperson of IPAC, Baroness Helena Kennedy.

The stated need for the coalition’s combined efforts comes from previous attempts to stand up for democratic values and human rights that led to “great cost” for those individual countries.

All members of the IPAC committee have experienced some form of political tension with the Asian powerhouse. The tensions however, vary in severity.

In the US, the Trump administration has made assertive efforts to sanction costs on China such as passing the Uyghur Human Rights Bill and revoking Hong Kong’s special status under customs law after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that Hong Kong no longer had a “high degree of autonomy.”

This consequently led to multiple large-scale Chinese purchases from the US being suspended. Many suspect that if the US continues to push China, the first phase of their trade deal could be completely repealed.

China has also imposed a new 80% tariff on Australian barley, which could cost the Australian economy at least AU$500 million (US$350 million) per year.

Some speculate that Australia’s advocacy for an independent investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 outbreak was in fact a “political manoeuvre” against Beijing.

Meanwhile, Canada saw two of its citizens, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor detained without trial on spying charges. The pair have been held in China since their arrest in December 2018. This has led to some suspecting that this was a retaliatory act in response to Canada’s arrest of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer (CFO) of Chinese telecoms company Huawei.

This chain of events signals “quite a significant change in direction from the Xi government in that they were no longer interested in general diplomacy but were using their power to intimidate different nations,” said Iain Duncan Smith of the UK Conservative Party.

“What we’ve discovered is that underneath the surface there is genuine concern about China … Some countries – we hadn’t even asked – had heard about it and then jumped in,” citing Norway and Sweden.

Beijing has yet to comment on the launch of IPAC.

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