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Row Over Fair Car Trade Continues as Scholz Lands in China

Scholz pressed his case for an open and fair European market for Chinese cars but warned against dumping, overproduction and intellectual property infringements

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, fifth from left, visits a research project on the monitoring of water quality in Chongqing, China April 14, 2024 (Reuters).


China and Europe’s dispute over what constitutes a fair trade in electric vehicles continued on Monday after the arrival of German chancellor Olaf Scholz in China.

Scholz pressed his case for an open and fair European market for Chinese cars but warned against dumping, overproduction and intellectual property infringements as he spoke to a group of students in Shanghai.

Scholz, together with three ministers and several leading German executives, is on a visit to China that is being watched closely for signs on how Europe will calibrate its response to what it believes are Chinese goods being dumped on its market.


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“At some point there will also be Chinese cars in Germany and Europe. The only thing that must always be clear is that competition must be fair,” Scholz told students at Tongji University in Shanghai.

“In other words, that there is no dumping, that there is no overproduction, that copyrights are not infringed,” Scholz said, adding it was important to allow companies to set up production facilities locally without bureaucratic hurdles.

“And that’s why whenever I’m in China and I say level playing field, of course we want our companies to have no restrictions,” he said.


China hits out at EU probe

The German leaders’ remarks come after China hit out at the European Union’s investigation into its electric vehicles as a violation of global trading rules, slating its lack of transparency and claiming the outcome is predetermined.

The European Commission launched an investigation last September into whether to impose punitive tariffs to protect European Union producers against cheaper Chinese electric vehicle imports it says are benefiting from state subsidies.

But Shi Yonghong, vice-president of the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products (CCCME), said he was concerned the findings would be “distorted and unobjective”.

The European Commission said the investigation and its findings would fully respect EU and international obligations.

“Europe plays by the rules, within its borders and globally. This anti-subsidy investigation is thorough, fair, and fact-based,” a spokesperson said.


Concern also over support for Russia’s war

Scholz also said small countries should not have to live in fear of big countries and that borders should not be changed by force, but did not mention China by name.

Scholz is due to meet President Xi Jinping on Tuesday and question him about China’s support for Russia’s wartime economy, two years after Moscow unleashed its invasion of Ukraine.

The German government and German businesses are also wary of any potential future conflict over Taiwan.

“One of these principles is that we should not be afraid of our neighbours,” he told students, comparing global values and relations between countries to neighbourly relations.

“We want that in our own lives. If our neighbour is a big, strong, muscular person, then we always want to say hello and be sure that he will never hurt us.”


  • Reuters with additional input and editing by Jim Pollard



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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years.


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