Last Updated on November 5, 2022
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz became the first Western leader to meet with CCP President Xi Jinping in Beijing since the COVID-19 pandemic when he travelled to the nation on Friday. Scholz made the trip in an effort to sure up relations with China after relations have been severed with Russia, which was previously one of Germany’s main importers of natural gas.
Scholz made the trip alongside top German business leaders, including the CEOs of BMW, Bayer, Deutsche Bank, and Volkswagen in order to affirm friendly ties with their top trading partner. “We do not believe in ideas of decoupling [from Communist China] but it is also clear that that has something to do with economic ties as equals, with reciprocity,” Scholz said during a joint-news conference with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
President Xi Jinping just met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on his official visit to China. pic.twitter.com/HRrQHrNe5d
— Hua Chunying 华春莹 (@SpokespersonCHN) November 4, 2022
The German leader also announced an agreement on Friday that will allow expatriates in China use the COVID-19 vaccine from Germany’s BioNTech. He also pressed Beijing to allow to open the vaccine up to all Chinese citizens, Reuters reported.
Scholz went on to say that while China — which has pursued a “zero COVID” policy and locked citizens in their homes over low case numbers — has a “different” approach to combatting the virus, though he stressed that both nations have a “responsibility” to eliminate it.
During the trip, Olaf Scholz was flanked by German industry leaders as the two nations sought stronger economic ties. Germany has been particularly hard hit by continent-wide energy shortages, as the nation previously imported a little more than a third of its natural gas from Russia.
Surging energy costs — which have more than doubled in some areas — have played a large role in German inflation surging past double digits for the first time in decades.
The crisis has forced Germany to seek greater economic ties with Beijing. In one agreement, China officially signed orders to buy 140 Airbus planes worth about $17 billion, a state-owned company said in a statement. An Airbus spokesperson said they are all preexisting orders, with some included in an order announced earlier this year, Reuters reported.
Scholz went on to tell reporters that he pushed for a level-playing field for European and Chinese companies, including reciprocal market access.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also discussed Taiwan, human rights and the war in Ukraine. Xi Jinping said both leaders “jointly oppose the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons” in Ukraine, according to a report from state-run media outlet Xinhua.
On the topic of Taiwan, Scholz told reporters that he reiterated that “any change in Taiwan’s status quo must be peaceful or by mutual consent.”
"Human rights are universally valid."
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz addressed Taiwan and the human rights situation in Xinjiang during his visit to China. pic.twitter.com/Ci8hdq35oD
— DW Politics (@dw_politics) November 4, 2022
The trip comes a little over a week after China purchased a stake in Germany’s largest and most important port. The move — which received opposition even from members of Scholz’s own left-wing ruling coalition — will allow the CCP-linked company COSCO the green light to acquire a stake of less than 25 percent in the port of Hamburg.
Germany’s economic affairs ministry said the decision was made to prevent a “strategic investment” by COSCO in the terminal and “reduces the acquisition to a purely financial investment.”