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Xi Seeks Cooperation With Scholz in ‘Times of Change, Turmoil’

Xi said that as large nations with influence, they should work together more during “times of change and turmoil” for the sake of world peace, according to state broadcaster CCTV.


German Chancellor Olaf Scholz meets President Xi Jinping in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Friday November 4, 2022
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz meets President Xi Jinping in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in November. Germany is working on a new China strategy that takes a more sober view of relations between the two /countries. Photo: Reuters

 

Chinese President Xi Jinping urged greater cooperation between China and Germany in a meeting with Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Friday, saying the world was facing “times of change and turmoil”.

Scholz – the first G7 leader to visit Beijing since the pandemic began – is on a one-day visit to assess ties with China after years of tensions.

Analysts said the meeting, their first face-to-face talks since the German leader took office, were expected to touch on Russia’s war on Ukraine, climate change and economic ties.

During the meeting, Xi said that as large nations with influence, the two countries should work together all the more during “times of change and turmoil” for the sake of world peace, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

“At present, the international situation is complex and volatile,” Xi was quoted as saying.

“As large and influential countries, in times of change and turmoil China and Germany should work together all the more, to make more contributions to world peace and development.”

Scholz told Xi that it was good both leaders were meeting in person during tense times, and said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was creating problems for the rules-based global order, a reporter accompanying Scholz’s delegation said.

Scholz also said the two would discuss issues related to Europe-China relations, the fight against climate change and global hunger, and how to develop bilateral economic ties, as well as topics where both countries had different perspectives.

The two leaders had lunch in the Great Hall of the People’s “Golden Room”, where banquets are sometimes held for foreign heads of state.

 

Covid Tests on Arrival

Scholz and a delegation of German business leaders flying with him, underwent Covid-19 tests on landing in Beijing on Friday morning, with Chinese medical staff donning hazmat suits going into the plane to conduct the tests, a reporter accompanying the delegation said.

Following a red carpet and honour guard reception, the delegation moved from the airport to a state guesthouse to await the results of their tests, which quickly came out as negative for Scholz, according to his press team.

Members of the German embassy in Beijing who come into contact with the delegation will have to undergo standard quarantine procedures – seven days in a hotel followed by three days at home – according to government sources.

China’s strict zero-Covid policy and growing tensions with the West have made it unfeasible for leaders of major western powers to visit China, while Xi only resumed foreign trips in September.

Since the conclusion of the 20th National Congress of the ruling Communist Party last month, several foreign leaders have visited China and been given exemptions to the strict Covid curbs, being instead placed in “bubbles” designed to minimise the chances of Covid cases being imported into Beijing.

 

Meeting With Outgoing Premier Li Also

Scholz’s visit is likely a welcome development for the Chinese leadership, who will be looking to shore up relations with the outside world.

“China, in the present domestic and international environments, requires his visit and whatever both sides would jointly declare in Beijing, especially shortly after the (Party) Congress,” said Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing.

Amid historic inflation and a looming recession in Germany, Scholz will be looking to emphasise the need for continued cooperation with China.

Scholz, who is also expected to meet outgoing Premier Li Keqiang, pledged earlier this week to raise issues such as human rights, Taiwan and the difficulties German companies face accessing the Chinese market, during his meetings in Beijing, government sources said.

 

COSCO Deal Tensions

In the run-up to the visit, there had been criticism of the visit within the EU and the German government coalition, mainly from the Green Party and the Liberals.

These tensions were brought to the fore by a deal last week whereby Chinese shipping giant Cosco received the green light from Berlin to obtain a stake in a Hamburg port terminal despite opposition from coalition partners.

China’s crucial role in key industries from shipbuilding to electric vehicles, along with the unprecedented economic headwinds facing Germany, meant Scholz needs cooperation with China more than his predecessor Angela Merkel ever did, Wang Yiwei, Jean Monnet chair Professor and director of the Centre for European studies at Renmin University, said.

“Merkel was also quite ideological (towards China) in the beginning but then she changed her tune. Scholz has changed his tune even faster, but he does not have as solid a domestic political standing as Merkel,” said Wang.

 

  • Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard

 

 

ALSO SEE:

 

Germany May Grant Cosco a Smaller Stake in Hamburg Port

 

EU Leaders Push For United Approach on China Dependency

 

Germany Seen Reviewing Ways to Cut China Dependency

 

 

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 and has a family in Bangkok.

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