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U.S. Republicans urge closer coordination with Europe on China

WASHINGTON, Nov 18 (Reuters) - Two months before U.S. President Donald Trump is due to leave office, the Republican leader of a key Senate committee issued a report on Wednesday urging the United States to work closely with allies in Europe to counter the threat posed by China.

The outgoing Republican president, who failed in his Nov. 3 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, who is 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 China.

Introducing the Republican report, Senator James Risch, chair 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 that Beijing was attempting “to undermine prosperity, security, and good governance in every region of the globe.”

The report said Western democracies had begun to realize the threat posed by China but 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.

“Neither side of the Atlantic can respond to the China challenge alone. The only successful path forward is to work together,” it said.

The Republican report follows one authored by several advisers to Biden published last month by Washington’s Center for a New American Security think tank saying there was no time to waste in taking a coordinated transatlantic approach on China, underlining a growing bipartisan consensus on the issue.

Separately on Tuesday, the Axios news website said the State Department, currently run by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a key Trump ally, was set to issue a policy blueprint on China calling for a strengthening of the U.S. alliance system and reform of international organizations - or the creation of new ones - to promote democracy, human rights and rule of law. (Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Tom Brown)

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