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BERLIN — Berlin must change the way it deals with China as the country returns to a more overtly “Marxist-Leninist” political trajectory, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said. written in an editorial Thursday.
In his article for POLITICO and the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Scholz defended his trip to China on Thursday but stressed that German companies should take steps to reduce “risky dependencies” in industrial supply chains, especially in terms of “advanced technologies”. . Scholz noted that President Xi Jinping deliberately pursues a political strategy of making international businesses dependent on China.
“The result of the Communist Party Congress which has just ended is unambiguous: the confessions of Marxism-Leninism occupy a much larger place than in the conclusions of previous congresses…As China changes, the way we treat with China must change, too,” Scholz wrote.
Germany has faced heavy criticism for pressuring Europe a strategically disastrous reliance on Russian gas in recent years, and Berlin must now fight back against suggestions that it is making the exact same mistakes by depending on China as a manufacturing base and trading partner.
While Scholz signaled a note of caution on China, he was far from suggesting that Germany was close to a major shift in its largely comfortable relationship with China. Indeed, it clearly echoed his predecessor Angela Merkel insisting that the United States (unnamed but clearly identified) should not drag Germany into a new cold war against Beijing.
“Germany of all countries, which had such a painful experience of division during the Cold War, has no interest in seeing new blocs emerge in the world,” he writes. “What this means with regard to China is that of course this country with its 1.4 billion people and its economic power will play a key role on the world stage in the future – as it has done for long periods throughout history.”
In a thinly veiled critique of Washington’s policy, Scholz said Beijing’s rise to power did not justify “calls by some to isolate China.”
Basically, he insisted the goal was not to “decouple” — or sever manufacturing ties — with China. He added, however, that he took “seriously” a claim by President Xi that Beijing’s goal was to “strengthen the dependence of international production chains on China”.
Scholz plans to fly to Beijing on Thursday evening for a one-day trip to the Chinese capital on Friday, where he will be the first Western leader to meet Xi since his reappointment, and the first leader of the G7 group of major economies to visit the China since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Chancellor also sought to counter criticism that his trip undermines a common European approach in China. According to French officials, President Emmanuel Macron had proposed that he and Scholz visit Xi together to demonstrate their unity and show that Beijing cannot divide European countries by playing their economic interests against each other – a move that the German leader rejected.
“German China policy can only succeed if it is integrated with European China policy,” Scholz wrote. “Ahead of my visit, we have therefore forged close ties with our European partners, including President Macron, but also with our transatlantic friends.
Scholz said he wants Germany and the EU to cooperate with a rising China – including on the important issue of climate change – rather than trying to lock it down.
At the same time, he warned Beijing that it should not pursue policies aimed at “hegemonic Chinese rule or even a China-centric world order”.
Scholz also pushed China to stop his support for Russia’s war against Ukraine and to adopt a more critical position towards Moscow: “As a permanent member of the [United Nations] Security Council, China bears a special responsibility,” he wrote. “Clear words from Beijing to Moscow are important – to ensure respect for the UN Charter and its principles.”
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