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German chancellor visits China on first trip since start of COVID-19

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday emphasised the need for greater cooperation between China and Germany amid “times of change and turmoil” in a meeting with Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the first G7 leader to visit China since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Olaf Scholz arrived in Beijing for a one-day visit on Friday. Analysts say that he will test the waters between China and the West after years of mounting tensions. The officials are expected to discuss Russia’s war on Ukraine, climate change, the global economy and how Germany could deepen ties with China.

President Xi Jinping just met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on his official visit to China.

— Hua Chunying 华春莹 (@SpokespersonCHN) November 4, 2022

During their first face-to-face meeting Xi Jinping said that as large nations with influence, China and Germany should work together “to make more contributions to world peace and development,” according to state broadcaster CCTV.

In turn, the German Chancellor told Xi that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was creating problems for the rules-based global order, according to a Reuters reporter accompanying the German delegation.

Germany needs cooperation with China to work

Amid historic inflation and a looming recession in Germany, Chancellor Scholz will be looking to emphasise the need for continued cooperation with China.

According to government sources Mr Scholz, who is also expected to meet outgoing Premier Li Keqiang, pledged earlier this week to raise issues such as human rights, Taiwan and the difficulties German companies face accessing the Chinese market.

Scholz-Li press conference beginning soon

Just received confirmation there will be ZERO questions taken

This is at the insistence of the Chinese side, 没有惊喜

Scholz will take questions separately later

— Richard Walker (@rbsw) November 4, 2022

In the run-up to the visit, the German Chancellor faced criticism within the EU and the German government coalition because of a business deal with China, whereby the Chinese shipping giant Cosco received the green light from Berlin to obtain a stake in a Hamburg port terminal.

Public opinion in Germany turning more critical on Chinese party state.

69% of Germans say allowing Cosco Hamburg terminal deal was wrong decision.

Olaf Scholz only has 20% of population behind him on Cosco deal.

— Thorsten Benner (@thorstenbenner) November 3, 2022

China’s crucial role in key industries from shipbuilding to electric vehicles, along with the unprecedented economic headwinds facing Germany, meant Scholz needs cooperation with China more than his predecessor Angela Merkel ever did, said Wang Yiwei, Jean Monnet Chair Professor and director of the Centre for European studies at Renmin University.

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