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Lawmakers Form Global Coalition to Tackle the China ‘Challenge’

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Lawmakers from several countries announced on Friday the formation of a new coalition formed to counter the “challenge” presented by China’s ascendancy on the world stage.

The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) is comprised of 18 politicians, including U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Robert Menendez. Other members represent Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Norway, Sweden, the U.K. and the European Parliament.

The group’s stated mission is to increase collaboration between “like-minded legislators” to craft a “strategic approach” on issues related to China, according to its website.

“China, under the rule of the Chinese Communist Party, represents a global challenge,” says Rubio, in a video posted on Twitter announcing the launch of the group. “We the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China stand together to coordinate the response to this great challenge.”

The organization describes its goals as safeguarding the international rules-based order, upholding human rights, promoting fair trade, strengthening security and promoting national integrity.

“We thought China would open up over time. This hasn’t happened,” Elisabet Lann, one of the group’s members and the deputy mayor for the Christian democrats in Gothenburg, Sweden, says in the video.

The new coalition comes at a time of worsening relations between the U.S. and China, a standoff that has been exacerbated by finger-pointing over the coronavirus pandemic.

Washington has also taken a tough stance on Beijing’s actions in the semiautonomous territory Hong Kong.

At the end of May, Beijing’s announced it would implement national security laws in Hong Kong, a move aimed at clamping down on anti-government unrest in the enclave. The decision prompted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to decertify Hong Kong’s autonomy, putting at risk the territory’s special economic and trade relationship with the U.S.

Meanwhile, China has been asserting itself internationally. In May, Chinese troops crossed the contested border with India. The Chinese navy has also stepped up patrols in the South China Sea.

Last month, Washington released a major China policy document that argues 40 years of U.S. engagement with China has failed to produce the “citizen-centric, free and open rules-based order” the U.S. had hoped it would. The document announced that the U.S. would take a “competitive approach” to China “based on a clear-eyed assessment of the CCP’s intentions and actions.”

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Write to Amy Gunia at amy.gunia@time.com