WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two months before President Donald Trump is due to leave office, the Republican leader of a U.S. Senate committee issued a report on Wednesday urging Washington to work closely with allies in Europe to counter the threat posed by China.
The outgoing Republican president, who failed in his re-election bid against Democratic challenger Joe Biden, took a tough line on China, but often acted unilaterally and offended allies in Europe and Asia by accusing them of freeloading on defense and browbeating them to follow U.S. policy.
Biden, due to take office on Jan. 20, has spoken of the need to revitalize U.S. alliances as a core source of strength in dealing with Beijing.
Introducing the report, Senator Jim Risch, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said the United States “must be prepared to work with our trusted allies and partners to counter an increasingly confrontational China.”
“I consider this foreign policy issue to be the most important of our time,” he added, charging Beijing was attempting “to undermine prosperity, security, and good governance in every region of the globe.”
The report said Western democracies had needed to do more to combat disinformation, develop expertise on China and protect the integrity of international institutions like the United Nations from increasing Chinese influence.
“It is time to restart a partnership and strengthen our ties,” European Parliament member David McAllister, told a news briefing with Risch and Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the British parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.
“It is only by standing together, that we defend freedom,” Tugendhat said.
McAllister stressed the importance of closer cooperation on trade, and urged Washington to increase its engagement in international organizations, including the World Health Organization, after Trump’s withdrawal this year.
The Republican report follows one authored by advisers to Biden published last month by Washington’s Center for a New American Security saying there was no time to waste in taking a coordinated transatlantic approach on China, underlining a growing bipartisan consensus on the issue.
Risch was just re-elected as senator from Idaho. He will remain foreign relations chairman if Republicans retain their Senate majority after two special elections in the state of Georgia in January.
The committee’s top Democrat, Senator Bob Menendez, said he welcomed Risch’s report on the importance of working with partners on China.
(Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Tom Brown and Chizu Nomiyama)