Published: 11:42, April 15, 2024
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Visit opportunity to reinforce common ground
By China Daily
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visits Bosch Hydrogen Powertrain Systems (Chongqing) Co Ltd on Sunday in Chongqing during his three-day visit to China. (PHOTO / FOR CHINA DAILY)

Strengthening Sino-German economic cooperation, rebalancing the trade relations between the European Union and China, and seeking solutions to hotspot issues are reportedly the three goals of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's ongoing visit to China from Sunday to Tuesday.

Although Berlin last year unveiled its first ever Strategy on China aimed at reducing Germany's dependence on the Chinese market in critical areas and aligning Germany with the EU's push for "de-risking", Scholz, during his reception of visiting Chinese Premier Li Qiang in June last year, reiterated that the German side welcomes China's development and prosperity, noting that Germany rejects all forms of decoupling and that "de-risking" should not be "de-sinicization".

That Germany is not looking to sever its links with China is also proved by the fast increase of German investment in the country, which is its largest trading partner. German direct investment in China reached nearly €12 billion ($12.77 billion) in 2023, a record high. As a matter of fact, Germany invested more in China between 2021 and 2023 than in the five-year period between 2015 and 2020, according to the Cologne Institute for Economic Research, a leading economics institute of Germany.

The German economy shrank by 0.3 percent last year, battered by inflation, high interest rates and cooling exports, and this year, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action of Germany expects anaemic growth of 0.2 percent.

The large-scale high-level business delegation that is accompanying Scholz on his second trip to China since November 2022 — when he also led a big team of representatives of leading German companies — as well as the presence of three major Cabinet ministers in his entourage speak volumes of the Scholz government looking to deepen economic and trade relations with the world's second-largest economy. Given their common belief in free trade, economic globalization and multilateral global governance, China and Germany are natural partners in many sectors.

That Scholz talked with French President Emmanuel Macron via video link two days before departing for China shows that the German and French leaders want to coordinate their stance and take advantage of such face-to-face exchanges with Beijing to effectively lubricate ties that may be in danger of faltering due to the EU's anti-subsidy probes into China-made electric vehicles and solar panels.

That the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the Middle East crisis were also covered in the virtual meeting between Scholz and Macron on Friday reflects the great significance Germany and France attach to the important role China is playing in seeking solutions to these hotspot issues, as well as the tremendous potential of the three countries' closer coordination and cooperation in this regard.

Scholz's visit therefore will not only help China and Germany enhance their mutual understanding and trust and deepen their practical cooperation, it also provides an opportunity to help steer China-EU relations on a more steady and stable course.