U.S. Should Work With Europe to Counter China, Senators Say

The best strategy for the U.S. to counter a rising China is to partner with allies in Europe, according to a report from the Republican majority on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“China has become a true systemic rival to shared American and European interests,” Senator Jim Risch, chairman of the committee, said Wednesday during an event promoting the report. “Both sides of the Atlantic have recently recognized this reality. Now we have to turn this agreement into action.”

Risch, an Idaho Republican, said the challenge required a “revolutionary” response.

David McAllister, a German member of the European Parliament who also took part in the event organized by Risch’s committee, delivered a thinly veiled criticism of U.S. policy under President Donald Trump, which he suggested has left an opening for China.

“We would welcome the U.S. return to international organizations,” McAllister said. “We need more American engagement in the United Nations. We need American engagement in the reform of the World Trade Organization and also we would welcome the American return to the World Health Organization.”

Trump said in May that the U.S. would withdraw from the WHO because of what he characterized as the organization’s undue deference to China and failure to provide accurate information about the coronavirus. His administration sent a letter in July giving the United Nations a one-year notice for the U.S. to leave the organization. President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to rejoin the WHO.

“Whenever you withdraw, China’s there to fill the spaces,” McAllister said.

Risch said he accepted McAllister’s suggestion in the “spirit in which it was offered” and that it would “not be a suggestion that is widely rejected as we move forward.”

The committee report said neither the U.S. nor Europe can respond to the challenge created by China alone. “The only way forward is to work together. Transatlantic security and prosperity requires that we renew our commitment to each other and pledge to use all of our combined tools to succeed,” it says.

The report issued Wednesday lays out recommendations on diplomacy, trade and technology, such as revoking China’s developing nation status under the World Trade Organization and revising the WTO’s rules on industrial subsidies.

“China, the world’s second-largest economy, is taking advantage of this status to the detriment of other market players as well as truly developing nations,” the panel said.

The report also calls for more trilateral trade discussions among the U.S., U.K. and the European Union to coordinate on critical technology and export controls regarding China.

There’s broad bipartisan agreement in Congress on some of the threats posed by China. With control of the Senate potentially remaining in Republican hands during the first two years of Biden’s administration, the report could serve as a guiding document for policies in the next Congress.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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