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Why Scholz had difficulties with Xi Jinping in China

Why Scholz had difficulties with Xi Jinping in China


Scholz in Beijing

On the last day of his visit to China, Chancellor Scholz met with President Xi Jinping.
04/16/2024 | 2:51 minutes

Government circles claim with some pride that Olaf Scholz spoke privately with Xi Jinping for much longer than expected. The two men were alone for 45 minutes, while the chancellor and president spent three hours and 20 minutes together walking, eating and negotiating with the delegation.

Xi Jinping, who was elected great president for life and thus broke with a rule of the Communist Party in force since Mao, spoke with the chancellor of the “spring in relations” between the two countries.

Scholz’s visit to China:

The Chancellor must make it clear to China that the country is “pursuing a path that we, as Europeans, cannot accept”, declared MEP Reinhard Btikofer (B'90/Greens). 04/15/2024 | 5:23 minutes

Scholz talks to Xi about Ukraine war

In fact, Olaf Scholz (SPD) first spoke to Xi about the Russian war in Ukraine. According to the Chancellor during the press conference with Prime Minister Li Qiang, he “asked Xi to influence Putin so that Vladimir Putin withdraws his troops and… . 'the terrible war is over.'

Scholz doesn't say what Xi responded to this; it probably wasn't an agreement, because the Chancellor continues on the points agreed and he is not there.

Both countries want to support peace and coordinate intensively through a conference in Switzerland and other initiatives. They agreed again to denounce the use and threat of nuclear weapons – they had already done so during Scholz's last visit in 2022, which was celebrated as a great success by the government federal.

Conversation with Schmidt

Chancellor Scholz asked the Chinese head of state to play a more active role in the war in Ukraine. ZDF correspondent Elisabeth Schmidt reports on the developments.04/16/2024 | 1:20 minutes

Circular economy agreement, beef and apples

They now add that they reject attacks on nuclear facilities such as nuclear power plants. The chancellor said in his final statement that his discussions were “a small building block” for influencing China. He formed a cuboid the size of a Lego brick with his hands.

The best thing Scholz will bring from China will be three chords. One on the circular economy, the other on beef and the other on Germany's authorization to export “fresh apples” to China. There is hope for a deal that would once again allow the export of German pork – particularly parts like the snout and ears, which the Germans don't eat but the Chinese prefer.

ZDF correspondent Miriam Steimer on today's Xpress show live from Beijing.

ZDF correspondent Miriam Steimer explains that Germany and China need each other. 04/16/2024 | 1:09 minutes

“Press meeting” without questions

But the chancellor had come to obtain concessions from Xi. China exports products to Russia that can be used for civil and military purposes. There seems to be little feeling of guilt about this. Regardless, there was no indication that it would stop supporting Moscow in this way.

After the talks with Chinese Prime Minister Li Qiang and the German-Chinese Economic Committee, a “press meeting” took place. It was announced in advance in Chinese and German that they had agreed to refrain from asking questions about these statements. The German side later said China had been clear: no questions asked or not at all.

Chinese Li Qiang talks a lot about economics

Li Qiang spoke neither about geopolitics nor about Beijing's good relations with Tehran and Moscow, but only about economic relations between the world's second and third economies, China and Germany.

Press with Alexander Jungkunz

Scholz has “so far successfully completed this difficult visit and addressed critical issues,” said Alexander Jungkunz of Nurnberger Nachrichten. His visit shows to what extent we are “dependent on the Chinese economy”.04/16/2024 | 3:28 minutes

He listed the many formats of dialogue between China and Germany and dispelled the most basic German assumptions. People should not see each other as rivals, he said – a formulation that appears in the German government's China strategy. China is described here as a “strategic partner, competitor and rival”, which does not please Beijing.

Li Qiang defends Chinese subsidies

The hypothesis that China is unfairly subsidizing its products, such as electric cars and photovoltaic systems, must be considered “objectively and dialectically”, Li said, in a way very similar to what he had done during the visit of American Treasury Secretary Yellen in early April.

He sounded like an economics professor giving Scholz a brief lecture on capitalism. The accusation is false. “Other countries also have subsidies,” he said against the US Inflation Reduction Act. Chinese subsidies match those of the World Trade Organization. Chinese competitiveness in green products is based on the size of the domestic market and their technical performance.

Scholz meets Xi Jinping:

“China opposes Germany on almost every point,” said Diana Zimmermann, ZDF correspondent in Beijing. 04/16/2024 | 2:56 minutes

Scholz: Germany does not want to separate from China

The chancellor seemed annoyed. Here too it started sharply and clearly with the war in Ukraine. He once again made it clear that these are central German security interests. Turning to the subject of the economy, he twice said that Germany was not seeking to decouple or separate from China, but simply wanted to reduce its dependence.

This suggests that there have been some unpleasant discussions about Chinese strategy. Problems can only be solved together, Scholz concluded. It had been announced beforehand that there would be no questions. That there would be no handshake between Li and Scholz.




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