Global alliance formed to counter Chinese authority on global trade, security



Committee Chairman Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks during a Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship hearing to examine implementation of Title I of the CARES Act, Wednesday, June 10, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Al Drago/Pool via AP)

A group of senior lawmakers from eight democratic countries have announced the formation of a new cross-parliamentary alliance which aims to counter the ascending threat of China’s authority on international subjects like global trade, human rights and global security. 

Legislators from eight countries and with independent support from the European Parliament launched an “Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China” on Friday, June 5. 

The group which includes the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada, Japan, Germany, Sweden and Norway alongside active support from the European Parliament. The group aims to counter “the greatest challenge to the free world,” referring to China under the leadership of Communist Party of China. (CCP) 

Senators Marco Rubio and Robert Mendez will represent the United States in the alliance. 

“The assumptions that once underpinned our engagement with Beijing no longer correspond to reality,” the IPAC memorandum says. “The Chinese Communist Party repeatedly and explicitly states its intention to expand its global influence. As a direct result, democratic values and practices have come under increasing pressure.” 

The cross-party nature of this alliance has drawn significant attention all around the world. The CCP has been under the spotlight in recent times regarding many alleged fallacies. 

From human rights violations such as inhumane treatment of Uighur Muslims and detaining them in concentration camps in North China to megalomaniac behaviour down south in Hong Kong, the behaviour of the CCP has been thoroughly scrutinized. Additionally, the questionable handling of the COVID-19 crisis and alleged organ harvesting from imprisoned  Falun Gong practitioners has garnered further international analysis. 

“When countries have stood up to Beijing, they have done so alone. Rather than mounting a common defence of shared principles, countries have instead been mindful of their national interests, which are increasingly dependent on the People’s Republic of China for crucial minerals, components, and products,” the memorandum continues. 

Rubio announced the launching of this new alliance via a Twitter video. “China, under the rule of the Chinese Communist Party, represents a global challenge,” Rubio said. “We, the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, stand together to coordinate the response to this great challenge.” 

The establishment of this alliance couldn’t have come at a worse time for the U.S.  The U.S. and China have been at a standoff since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CCP is also understood to be upset with the Trump administration in regards to their firm stance of condemning China’s actions in Hong Kong. With such apprehension between the two superpowers, it seems probable to create a mutually hostile environment in the world. Li Jin,  Chinese Studies Program Director at DePaul University, said it is best for both governments to work alongside each other. 

“In the last three years, the relationship between both governments has significantly deteriorated,” Jin said. “Considering the current situation, both the countries should work alongside each other to return to normalcy by ending this pandemic. The world is unprecedentedly connected and fuelling a pandemic version of the Cold War would be detrimental for the entire world.” 

Jin, who has been living in the U.S. for the last 20 years, said she is uncertain if both governments can find a common ground to work together. 

“The Trump administration and the Jinping government have both been punching back at each other,” Jin said. “From terminating flights between countries to restricting admission to students in the university, both the governments have been coming out with new policies to overpower the other. China is already aware of the economic backlash it would have to endure if they stand tall against the U.S. It is for the same reason, China is gradually transforming its economy from a production to a consumer-based. By creating a sustainable market within the country, the lack of support from the U.S. won’t affect them notably.” 

But the U.S. isn’t the only country with a dented relationship with China.

Several nations of the alliance have been under intense political or economical pressure, creating a discontented environment globally. 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 had a tough time negotiating the export of salmon for six years 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 wet market of Wuhan, have led to new tariffs on Australian barley and bans on some meat. 

“We thought China would open up over time. This hasn’t happened,” said Elisabet Lann, deputy mayor for Christian democrats in Gothenburg, Sweden, in the Twitter video. In April 2020, Gothenburg cancelled its friendly agreement of 34 years with Shanghai over a dispute of free speech, human rights and the fate of Hong Kong. 

Japan, which shares a long hostile history with China, decided to pull its major companies out of China in March 2020 and relocate its production base back to Japan instead of over-relying on the Communist regime. 

The relationship between the U.K. and China was on an upswing for many years. But now, the Chinese initial nonchalance and disinformation regarding the pandemic have seemed to end the golden era of Anglo- Sino relations. The pandemic has affected the U.K. severely and the London administration is keen on terminating the affinity. 

George Evans, a political analyst at Kingston University is quite confident of the shift in relations between the UK and China.

“ When you see the UK as a whole now, there is a very sour feeling towards China at the top level. After the deceit of Coronavirus, economic and trade relations have become strained. Before the pandemic, China was a heavy investor in the UK’s nuclear power industry, but it wouldn’t be too long when Johnson and his administration pulls the plug on the deal”

Evans, a former bureaucrat at the Foreign and Commonwealth Ministry shows his disdain towards the approach adopted by China.

“ We’ve had great relation with CCP in the past, arguably the best in recent times. We have supported them in some decisions which have outraged our major allies on the global scale as well. I suppose the government would want to take a step back and think about the decisions they have made on the international scale. As far as I am aware, our Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab made some serious statements regarding the trade relations with China after the pandemic. So the formation of this institution seems like a follow up to those comments.”

The IPAC has encouraged been other democracies of the world to join the coalition and fight against the common adversary. Responding to the formation of this cross-parliamentary alliance, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a press briefing on Friday, “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.”