Published: 10:16, April 15, 2024
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German chancellor begins visit with Chongqing tour
By Tan Yingzi and Deng Rui in Chongqing
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visits Bosch Hydrogen Powertrain Systems, a state-of-the-art fuel cell R&D and production facility, in Chongqing on April 14, 2024. (PHOTO / AP)

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz explored Chongqing on Sunday to experience the charm of the mountainous industrial city in Southwest China.

The tour included a visit to a factory, interaction with local young people, a city walk and a visit to an exhibition of a Sino-German scientific project.

Scholz is the first leader of a major Western country to visit China this year. His high-profile delegation includes three government ministers and top business leaders. It is his second visit to China following a one-day trip in November 2022 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the first stop of his three-day official visit to China, Scholz visited Bosch Hydrogen Powertrain Systems (Chongqing) Co Ltd, a joint venture between German engineering and technology company Bosch and Chongqing-based premium commercial vehicle manufacturer Qingling Motors. The company was set up in 2021 to develop, assemble and sell fuel cell systems in China.

Guided by a factory technician, Scholz assembled a hydrogen power module during his tour of the facility.

The joint venture has introduced 76 kilowatt, 134 kW and 190 kW fuel cell power modules to the market. The portfolio caters to various classic commercial vehicle applications such as cold-chain logistics, sanitation and medium to heavy-duty long-haul transportation.

After a lunch meeting with local officials, Scholz met with student representatives from Chongqing University, which boasts longstanding cooperation with German universities and research institutes. He then walked through the downtown area of the city to experience the unique landscape, rich history and vibrant business atmosphere.

On the banks of the Yangtze River, Scholz learned about a water quality monitoring and pollutants detection system, developed by Chinese and German research institutes, which is a highlight of Sino-German technological cooperation.

Chongqing, a mega city on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River with a population of nearly 32 million, is a traditional industrial powerhouse, which has a long history of cooperation and exchanges with Germany.

As the gateway to Southwest China, it boasts one of the world's largest IT industrial clusters and one of China's biggest auto manufacturing bases.

Germany has several major investment projects in Chongqing. BASF SE Asia-Pacific, a German chemical giant, invested 8 billion yuan ($114 million) in a project in Changshou district and started its methylene diphenyl diisocyanate production in 2015, with an annual capacity of 400,000 metric tons.

MDI is an important component of polyurethane, a plastic material used to improve insulation, which helps save energy in buildings and make cars lighter.

For years, the bilateral relationship between China and Germany has witnessed high-level development thanks to close exchanges between the leaders of the two countries.

China has been Germany's biggest trading partner for eight consecutive years, and Germany has been China's biggest trading partner in Europe for the past 49 years, according to the Foreign Ministry.

After Chongqing, the German delegation is scheduled to head to Shanghai on Monday before meeting with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang in Beijing to discuss Sino-German ties and issues of common concern, according to a spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry.

German media reports said that Roland Busch, chief executive officer of Siemens and also chair and president of the Asia-Pacific Committee of German Business, Oliver Zipse, chairman of the BMW board of management, Bayer CEO Bill Anderson and ThyssenKrupp CEO Miguel Lopez are members of the business delegation accompanying Scholz.

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