Chancellor Scholz met Xi Jinping to “further develop” economic cooperation between Germany and China
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was received by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Palace of the People in Beijing on Friday morning, November 4. Scholz, who is due to meet with Premier Li Keqiang next, is the first European Union (EU) and G7 leader to visit China since the start of the pandemic. A strict zero-Covid policy has caused the world’s second-largest economy to close its borders for nearly three years.
Mr. Scholz’s visit to China “to strengthen” Cooperation with Germany, Xi Jinping said, according to state broadcaster CCTV. The German chancellor, in turn, told the Chinese president what he wanted “develop further” Despite economic cooperation with Beijing “from different points of view”.
“We also want to discuss (…) how we can develop our cooperation on other topics: climate change, food security and debtor countries”Mr. Scholz told AFP, according to a German government source.
“The Lonely Walk”
The one-day visit comes amid growing Western distrust of the authoritarian Chinese regime. This comes right after the appointment of Xi Jinping as the head of the Chinese Communist Party and the country as a whole, and is seen with a critical eye not only in Germany, but also in France, Brussels and Washington.
Reconnecting with the visits to China by his predecessor, Christian Democrat Angela Merkel (twelve in 16 years in power), Social Democrat Scholz is taking an entire delegation of industrialists such as the heads of Volkswagen and BASF. However, the dependence of the EU’s first economy on this autocracy, in which German companies make a significant part of their profits, is increasingly being questioned.
“With his visit to China, the chancellor is pursuing a foreign policy that has caused a loss of trust in Germany among our closest partners”condemned the opposition MP Norbert Röttgen “walking alone”.
And even within the government coalition, warnings are in order: Foreign Minister, environmentalist Annalena Baerbock, called “We are no longer dependent on a country that does not share our values”is at risk of surrender “Politically vulnerable to blackmail”.
However, a few days before the visit, the German chancellor authorized a Chinese stake in the Hamburg port terminal. Washington has also pressured Berlin to limit the stake given to the Cosco group.
Beijing opposes “any interference”.
Mr. Scholz, trying to calm things down, promised “Ignore Controversy” during this trip. In a column published shortly before his departure, the chancellor said he was aware of it “China today is not what it was five to ten years ago”in particular, referring to the recent congress of the Communist Party of China, which consolidated the power of President Xi Jinping. “If China changes, our relations with China must also change”The German chancellor admitted, of course, that he made a cautious change.
In the economic field, he does not mean separation from China, but reduction. “one-way dependencies” with “a sense of proportion and pragmatism”.
He scratched “difficult topics” said that he intended to speak during the interviews. Among them, “Respect for civil and political liberties, as well as the rights of ethnic minorities”for example, the Muslim Uighurs of Xinjiang.
But Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry in Beijing, warned: “The Chinese side is against any interference in our internal affairs and any insult under the name of discussing human rights”.
Chancellor also promised to discuss “Tense situation around Taiwan” and the war in Ukraine, as claimed by China “neutrality” – It is seen by Westerners as silent support for the Kremlin.