Scholz wants to persuade Xi Jinping to take a more active role in ending the war in Ukraine. The Chancellor also alluded to Taiwan during her visit to China.

Scholz and Xi Jinping look critically into each other's eyes during the photo shoot.

Staring contest in Beijing: Chancellor Scholz meets with Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Photo: Michael Kappeler/dpa

BEIJING rtr/afp | Chancellor Olaf Scholz urges China to play a more active role in Russia's war against Ukraine. He wanted to discuss with Chinese President Xi Jinping “how we can contribute more to a just peace in Ukraine,” Scholz said Tuesday in Beijing at the start of a meeting with Xi. “The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine and Russia's rearmament have significant negative impacts on security in Europe. “They directly affect our fundamental interests.”

The background is accusations by Western governments that China does not support Russia with weapons, but with so-called dual-use goods that can be used for civilian purposes but which Russia is supposed to use for its war of aggression. Scholz warned that the attack “indirectly” damaged the entire international order. Because it violates the principle of the UN Charter that state borders should not be violated. Both he and Xi have already made clear that Russia should not even threaten to use nuclear weapons. Like Russia, China is a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Chinese President Xi Jinping did not address the issue during his welcome speech. He only said in general terms that relations with Germany would continue to develop as long as both sides respected each other and sought “common ground,” even if there were still differences. This is seen as a formulation with which China prohibits interference in internal affairs and criticism of the human rights situation in the country: “We must view and develop bilateral relations from a strategic and long-term perspective,” he said. Xi.

Chinese autocrat Xi Jinping emphasized positive developments in bilateral relations and their international importance. “China and Germany are the second and third largest economies in the world.” The development of their relations has “important effects on the Asian-European continent and even on the entire world.” Together we will guarantee more stability and security in the world.

Allusions to Taiwan

On the eve of Scholz's visit, the United States accused China of massively supporting the Russian arms sector. “Without the contribution of the People's Republic of China, Russia would have difficulty sustaining its war effort,” a senior US official said. According to American information, China is Russia's most important supplier of machine tools and microelectronics necessary to produce missiles, drones, tanks and airplanes.

In a debate with Chinese students in Shanghai on Monday, Scholz said that both in private life and between countries, no one should be afraid of a big, strong neighbor. This was an allusion to China's conflicts with its neighbors in the South China Sea.

The chancellor also wants to meet with Premier Li Qiang on Tuesday and take part in a business meeting between Germany and China. Scholz will be accompanied on his three-day trip by a business delegation. Before Beijing, he visited the cities of Chongqing and Shanghai. Scholz was last in China in November 2022 and bilateral government consultations were held in Berlin in 2023.

Before his trip, Scholz had signaled that his visit would be based on China's new strategy, which takes a much more critical tone towards Beijing for geopolitical reasons and due to internal political developments in China. In Shanghai he insisted on a level playing field for German companies. In Beijing, before the conversation with Xi, he noted that Germany and China, as exporting nations, benefited from World Trade Organization rules. This was a reference to criticism of Chinese overcapacity entering global markets. Several countries and the EU accuse China of unfair competition.

Before his conversation with Xi, Scholz highlighted the importance of cooperation with China in the fight against climate change. “Extreme weather events, such as storms, floods, droughts and cold, affect the entire world,” Scholz said. “Only together can we find solutions, stop climate change and manage the transition to green energy in a socially just way.”

The meeting between Scholz and Xi took place on the last day of Scholz's three-day trip to China, accompanied by several federal ministers and business representatives. A meeting with Premier Li Qiang is also scheduled for Tuesday. In addition to Ukraine, Scholz also wants to raise competition issues in the Beijing talks. Another important issue is probably the situation in the Middle East after the Iranian attack on Israel.

Car companies warn of trade dispute

The bosses of the two German car companies, BMW and Mercedes, have warned of a trade dispute over Chinese electric cars in Europe. “What we cannot use as an exporting nation is to increase trade barriers,” Mercedes boss Ole Källenius told ARD in Beijing about the EU investigation into whether there is unfair competition from Chinese electric cars. “The best protection is to be competitive. And if you start putting up trade barriers, first one and then the other, that goes in the wrong direction.”

Källenius, like BMW boss Oliver Zipse, described China as an opportunity rather than a risk. Regarding Scholz's visit, Källenius stated that economic relations between Germany and China must not only be maintained, but also expanded. “Withdrawing from such a large market is not an alternative, but rather we are expanding our position,” he said of his company's strategy in China.

BMW is already positioned globally, which is the best strategy to minimize dependence on one market, Zipse said about the political demands for diversification. He also expressed skepticism about the EU's testing of Chinese electric cars. “We don't feel threatened. This time we should not exaggerate our fear of foreign manufacturers either. “We are confident that we can compete.”

Both automakers have a strong presence in the Chinese market. They feel less competitive pressure than smaller carmakers, where margins are smaller and the number of Chinese competitors is greater, especially in the case of electric cars.

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