Scholz in China: China relies on close cooperation with Germany

At the beginning of his meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for close cooperation between the two countries despite existing differences.

Scholz in China: China relies on close cooperation with Germany

At the beginning of his meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for close cooperation between the two countries despite existing differences. "Together, we can bring greater stability and security to the Earth," Xi said, according to an official translation. "As long as we adhere to the principles of mutual respect, (the) search for common ground despite differences and mutual learning, bilateral relations can continue to develop stably."

Scholz names Russian war of aggression as the number one issue

While Xi's opening words remained flowery, Scholz became specific and first addressed the Ukraine war very clearly. "The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine and Russia's arms buildup are having a very significant negative impact on security in Europe," he said to Xi, who is considered a key ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The West accuses China of supplying Russia with goods that can be used for both civil and military purposes and thus supporting the Russian war economy.

The effects of the war directly affected core European interests, said Scholz. "Indirectly, they damage the entire international order because they violate a principle of the United Nations Charter: the principle of the inviolability of state borders."

The Chancellor recalled that during his last visit, together with Xi, he made it clear that the use of nuclear weapons should not even be threatened. "I would like to discuss with you today how we can contribute more to a just peace in Ukraine." Before his trip, Scholz had already advocated for China, as well as other countries friendly to Russia, to take part in the peace conference planned for June in Switzerland.

Xi speaks of a “new era of turbulence and upheaval”

Xi said broadly that a "new era of turbulence and upheaval" has begun, with risks increasing for all of humanity. "In order to solve these questions, it is essential that cooperation between the major powers prevails." In this sense, stable cooperation between the major economies of Germany and China is important. It will “exercise great influence not only on the entire Eurasian continent, but also on the entire world.”

In addition to the war in Ukraine, Scholz also specifically addressed climate protection and called for closer cooperation. “Our two states have a responsibility to protect global public goods,” he said. China emits by far the most climate-damaging greenhouse gases in the world.

Scholz also advocated for a rules-based trading system, as embodied by the World Trade Organization (WTO). "Both China and Germany are trading nations that benefit greatly from the WTO. We are committed to strengthening the rules for global trade and further developing them together with the other WTO members."

Hidden reminder with a view to Taiwan

Scholz had already sent clear words to the Chinese leadership before his departure to Beijing. He will point out that Russia is waging a war of conquest against Ukraine, "and insist that no one is allowed to help make this happen," he said on Monday in Shanghai.

Scholz also had a hidden warning with regard to Taiwan. It must be ensured that "you don't have to be afraid of your neighbors," he emphasized in a discussion with students at Tongji University. There are fears that the powerful communist People's Republic of China will attack the democratic island republic of Taiwan, which Beijing sees as its own territory. The Chinese leadership has threatened to invade several times. It is also in dispute with neighboring countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines over large maritime areas in the South China Sea.

Practical test for China strategy

The federal government decided on a comprehensive China strategy for the first time last summer. It defines the country, ruled with a heavy hand by the communist leadership, as a partner, competitor and systemic rival. The core of the strategy is to reduce economic dependence on China in order to avoid a rude awakening like the one that occurred when gas supplies were cut off after the Russian attack on Ukraine. The three-day visit is also a practical test of this strategy.

It is the Chancellor's second trip to China since he was sworn in in December 2021. His inaugural visit in November 2022 was only a day trip due to the ongoing corona pandemic. This time he took three days - more than ever before for a single country on a trip - and before Beijing he also visited the two economic metropolises of Chongqing and Shanghai. The country with its 1.4 billion inhabitants is Germany's largest trading partner.

A dozen managers and three ministers were there

Scholz is accompanied in Beijing by a dozen top managers and three ministers: Volker Wissing (transport, FDP), Cem Özdemir (agriculture, Greens) and Steffi Lemke (environment, Greens). Scholz also wants to meet Prime Minister Li Qiang in the afternoon. Several agreements should then be signed.