Germany's Scholz confirms visit to China next month
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced on Friday that he will visit China with a business delegation next month. He will be the first G7 leader to travel there since the start of COVID-19 pandemic.
Why it matters: As President Xi Jinping moves to secure a third term in office, Scholz's trip could signal how the largest economy in the EU plans to deal with Beijing, which the 27-country bloc has labeled a "partner," an "economic competitor," and a "systemic rival" at the same time.
- Scholz's predecessor Angela Merkel had close economic ties with Beijing, but he is trying to balance continuing robust trade relations and taking a tougher stance on issues such as human rights.
- Last month, German Economy Minister Robert Habeck pledged "no more naivety" in trading with China. He announced his team was working on a new economic policy to reduce dependence on China and scrutinize investment from China.
Details: Speaking in Brussels after a EU summit on Friday, Scholz said he will travel to China with a delegation of business leaders, but he declined to confirm whether he would be accompanied by French President Emanuel Macron, per Reuters.
- Scholz's spokesperson said the trip would happen at the start of November, without specifying the dates. Politico reported earlier that Scholz plans to travel to China on Nov. 3-4, citing officials with knowledge of the trip.
The other side: The planned trip has been slammed by other EU leaders, who say such unilateral diplomacy could detract from the bloc's desire to speak to China with a "single voice."
- "It is in their interest that we are divided. It's in our interest that we are united." Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said on Friday.
- Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins also urged the EU to take a "united approach to China," adding the bloc needs to ensure China was "on the right side of history" over Russia's war in Ukraine.