On December 9, 2020, the Free World Commission, comprised of lawmakers from leading democracies, held a virtual hearing on China and called for democracies to work together to address the challenges to the rules-based order posed by Beijing.
The hearing was co-chaired by MP Tom Tugendhat from the United Kingdom and Rep. Tom Malinowski from the United States. MP Lisa Quartapelle Procopio from Italy and Rep. Mike Gallagher from the United States joined the hearing in person, while US Senator James Risch and US Rep. Eliot Engel both provided video statements.
Mr. Tugendhat highlighted the need for the free world to act with one voice on China. He emphasized the importance of the D-10 as an alliance of democracies that can reinforce democratic values and help tackle the China challenge. Rep. Tom Malinowski added that the free world is in a contest with the Chinese Communist Party that can only be won in concert with our allies and partners.
Rep. Mike Gallagher highlighted the need for democratic countries to make proactive investments to ensure that they, not China, will be able to dominate the future of technology. MP Quartapelle Procopio added that a successful approach must also involve engaging China on areas of common concern. US Senator James Risch, in a prepared video statement, emphasized the importance of the United States and its allies in the Indo-Pacific and Europe committing to a long-term and sustained approach to China. Rep. Eliot Engel, also in a prepared video statement, suggested that while building consensus “takes work, communication, and time,” it would be well worth the investment.
The Commission heard from several former senior officials, including Kurt Campbell, former US Assistant Secretary of State, Margaret McCuaig-Johnston, a former assistant deputy minister in Canada, and Boris Ruge, a former German ambassador and currently Vice-Chairman of the Munich Security Conference, each of whom spoke about the challenges posed by China. Carl Gershman, President of the National Endowment for Democracy, which is supporting this initiative, reaffirmed the need to defend democratic values and push back against Beijing’s authoritarian influence throughout the world. Atlantic Council CEO Fred Kempe noted that the commission could play a significant role in building habits of cooperation among democracies to address today’s challenges.
The Free World Commission was launched at the Munich Security Conference in February 2020. The Commission includes influential legislators from Australia, Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States, and the European Union. The Atlantic Council serves as secretariat for the Commission.
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