International relations: Scholz announces new China policy

Before his eagerly awaited trip to Beijing, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) announced a change of course towards China.

International relations: Scholz announces new China policy

Before his eagerly awaited trip to Beijing, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) announced a change of course towards China. In an article for the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" on Wednesday, he justified this with the results of the party congress of the Chinese Communist Party two weeks ago.

The commitment to Marxism-Leninism would have taken up much more space than at previous party congresses. Striving for the stability of the communist system and national autonomy will become more important in the future. "Today's China is no longer the same as it was five or ten years ago," writes Scholz. "It is clear that if China changes, the way we deal with China must also change."

Scholz travels to Beijing for eleven hours

On Thursday, the chancellor is leaving for an eleven-hour visit to Beijing. There he will meet President Xi Jinping - as the first Western head of government since he was re-elected party leader. Xi had also reorganized the leadership team and thus consolidated his power.

While the USA has long been pursuing a tough course against the authoritarian government in Beijing, Germany, which has strong economic ties with China, relied on pragmatism and cooperation under Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU). In the coalition agreement, the SPD, Greens and FDP have agreed to develop a new China strategy. "We want and must structure our relations with China in the dimensions of partnership, competition and system rivalry," it says.

In the "FAZ" article, Scholz spells out for the first time what he envisions as a new China strategy. He is against economic decoupling. However, one-sided dependencies would have to be eliminated. "Wherever risky dependencies have arisen - for example with important raw materials, some rare earths or certain future technologies - our companies are now rightly expanding their supply chains. We support them, for example through new raw material partnerships," he writes.

Chancellor also wants to address "difficult issues".

Scholz announced that he did not want to ignore "difficult issues" in his talks with the Chinese leadership. "This includes respect for civil and political liberties and the rights of ethnic minorities, for example in Xinjiang province." The United Nations Human Rights Office accuses the Chinese leadership of suppressing the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang. The government in Beijing rejects the allegations.

Scholz expressed concern about the tense situation around Taiwan. "Like the United States and many other countries, we are pursuing a one-China policy. However, this means that the status quo can only be changed peacefully and by mutual consent." China considers Taiwan, which has a population of 23 million, to be part of the People's Republic and firmly rejects official contacts from other countries to Taipei. Taiwan, on the other hand, has long considered itself independent. At the party congress, Xi Jinping again threatened to conquer the island.

Chancellor also under pressure in coalition because of China policy

Scholz had recently come under pressure in his own coalition because of his attitude towards China. He only pushed through the participation of the Chinese state-owned company Cosco in a terminal in the port of Hamburg against the resistance of several of his ministers. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) then reminded him of the coalition agreement.

China has changed massively in recent years, said the Green politician on ZDF on Wednesday. "That's why we have jointly anchored in the coalition agreement that we will align our China policy in the same way as many European countries have done in the past." While there is cooperation on global issues, there is also increasing competition, in which China also uses unfair methods. In addition, the country is increasingly developing into a "systemic rival".