Oct 21, 2022 - World

Germany's Scholz confirms visit to China next month

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks at the European Council headquarters in Brussels.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks at the European Council headquarters in Brussels on Friday. Photo: Valeria Mongelli/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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.
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