Deepening economic relations between Germany and China as well as mediating Russia’s war in Ukraine are the key points that Chinese President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz promised to work on. The meeting draws criticism in Europe for Beijing’s tacit support for Moscow.
A controversial visit that seeks a greater rapprochement between the two most important economies in Europe and Asia.
On his first official visit to Beijing, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz made it clear that he seeks to deepen his country’s trade relations with China. An objective for which he asked President Xi Jinping for financial ties “of equals”.
“That is the goal of a good exchange and I am delighted that this is possible,” said Scholz in his opening statement, after being received by the Chinese president in the so-called Great Hall of the People.
For his part, Xi expressed the need for greater cooperation between the two largest economies in Europe and Asia, amid “times of change and turmoil.”
“Currently, the international situation is complex and changing. As influential powers, China and Germany should work together in times of change and chaos to make more contributions to world peace and development,” Xi said.
Berlin and Beijing boast significant trade with China’s rapid expansion and demand for German cars and machinery fueling its own growth over the past two decades.
Mercedes Benz alone sold 758,863 cars in China last year, more than in any other country, according to company figures.
However, amid historic inflation and a looming recession in Germany, Scholz seeks to emphasize the need for continued cooperation with the Asian giant, analysts stress.
Ukraine and Taiwan, on Xi and Scholz’s agenda
Amid the meeting closely watched by the West, the Chinese president called for peace talks between Russia and Ukraine and said he was against an eventual nuclear conflict.
Xi “pointed out that China supports Germany and the EU in playing an important role in promoting peace talks and building a balanced, effective and sustainable European security framework,” state broadcaster ‘CCTV’ reported on talks between the two leaders this Friday.
However, various Western governments view with suspicion the diplomatic support provided by Beijing to Moscow, while refusing to support measures proposed by the United Nations in retaliation for launching the conflict.
It is important for China to exert its influence over Russia
The Chinese government has also accused the United States and NATO of provoking the attack and has scathingly criticized the economic sanctions imposed on the administration of Vladimir Putin, with whom it has met during the war.
The international community must “create the conditions for the resumption of negotiations (and) jointly oppose the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons,” Xi said on November 4, on the sidelines of Scholz’s visit.
At a later press conference, Scholz noted that he told Xi that “it is important for China to exert its influence over Russia… President Xi and I agree that nuclear threats are irresponsible and very dangerous. By using nuclear weapons, Russia would cross a line that the international community has drawn,” he remarked.
As tensions grow over China’s threats to Taiwan, an autonomous island it claims as its own, Scholz also assured the Chinese leader that “any change in the status quo in Taiwan must be peaceful or by mutual agreement.”
“Today I addressed our growing concern for stability and peace in the region. China has a special responsibility here. Like the United States and many other countries, we follow the ‘One China’ policy,” the German chancellor told reporters about the private talks with Xi.
A sensitive visit viewed with reluctance from Europe
Scholz’s visit to China, the first by a leader of a G7 nation in three years, tests the waters of relations between Beijing and the West after years of rising tensions.
The diplomatically sensitive trip comes as Germany and the European Union work on their strategy towards China.
The meeting, which strengthens China’s foreign relations, is beneficial for Xi, especially after the recent conclusion of the Communist Party Congress in which the president secured a third consecutive term and consolidated his power in the core of the ruling party.
In recent weeks, tensions in Europe over a closer rapprochement between Berlin and Beijing have been brought to light by the agreement that allows the Chinese company Cosco to have a stake in the Hamburg port terminal.
That issue caused internal disputes in the German government coalition, despite which Scholz went ahead and the Chinese participation was approved. China’s role in key industries from shipbuilding to electric vehicles, coupled with economic headwinds toward Germany, show that Scholz needs cooperation with China more than her predecessor, Angela Merkel, some say. experts.
“What we are clear about is that we do not believe in ideas of disengagement (with China) but it is also clear that this has something to do with economic ties as equals, with reciprocity, with the issue that access to investment alike,” Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said in a statement.
But the deepening of their relations raises questions about whether Europe’s largest economy is becoming too dependent on the Chinese market. An approach considered by some as a red line that should not be crossed given the experience left by the great dependence of nations on the continent on Russian energy.
The war launched by Moscow against Ukraine and its respective consequences due to Western economic sanctions have caused serious inflationary consequences.
With Reuters and AP
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