WIf you want to hear clear words about China, it's worth calling Reinhard Bütikofer. The German Green Party politician is a foreign policy voice in the European Parliament with experience in China. The question is how he views Chancellor Olaf Scholz's trip to China. “In Beijing, Scholz is seen as the continuation of Merkel with social democratic means and they think that’s a good thing,” says Bütikofer. He does not base his judgment on the fact that his party governs Berlin with the Social Democratic Chancellor's Party. China is currently doing “a kind of friendship test,” he says. Friend be anyone who is not a fan of de-risking. The term refers to risk minimization by reducing economic dependence on China. In any case, the Chinese would not see the Chancellor in this camp, says Bütikofer.

Jochen Stahnke

Political correspondent for China, Taiwan and North Korea based in Beijing.

The Green agrees with the CDU Bundestag member and foreign policy expert Norbert Röttgen. He also says that Scholz will continue like Merkel. The Chancellor's trip, which begins on Saturday and is accompanied by a business delegation, is a “big sales tour,” says Röttgen of the FAS

In the federal government, things are naturally viewed in a more differentiated way. The day before the trip began in Berlin, they said, they wanted to continue doing good business with China. After all, the government's China strategy adopted last year does not say that it wants to reduce trade with China. Nevertheless, there are enough examples of de-risking that also appear in the strategy. What is mentioned is the development of a larger chip industry in Germany.

In China people think highly of Scholz

When Russia stopped gas deliveries, Germany realized how urgently it needed to reduce its dependencies on other countries. The connections with China are much more extensive than with Russia. “If the Chancellor took the federal government’s China strategy seriously, a start would have been made,” says Bütikofer.

In Beijing, people think highly of the “pragmatist” Scholz, especially in comparison to Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock's Greens. The state media accuse this of “potentially undermining” bilateral relations. Cui Hongjian, a European specialist at the Beijing University of Foreign Languages, makes it clear: “The Greens in this federal government in particular are trying to change the political tradition of the previous German government, including China policy,” says the professor to the FAS. Beijing is closely monitoring the “unusual” trip three ministers Cem Özdemir, Steffi Lemke and Volker Wissing who are traveling to the Chinese capital on Monday: two Greens and a Liberal. Some speak of an embrace strategy on the part of the Chancellor, who wants to protect himself against criticism from within the coalition.

July 1987: Chancellor Kohl and his wife Hannelore in Tibet

July 1987: Chancellor Kohl and his wife Hannelore in Tibet

Image: Picture Alliance

It is heard in Beijing that no major agreements will be signed during this Chancellor's trip. “When a German head of government came to China, one of the highlights was the signing of trade agreements and contracts,” says Cui. “That’s a thing of the past.” Now it’s about rebalancing international relations. China currently wants to stabilize its foreign relations. In the winter, Xi Jinping traveled to Joe Biden in America, and after Scholz's visit he will come to France, Hungary and Serbia in May and then meet Vladimir Putin in Beijing.