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BERLIN – Berlin needs to change its approach to China as the country is clearly returning to a “Marxist-Leninist” political trajectory, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in an op-ed on Thursday.
In an article for POLITICO and Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper on Thursday defended Scholz’s visit to China, but stressed that German companies must take steps to reduce “risky dependence” in industrial supply chains, particularly in terms of “modern technologies”. According to Scholz, President Xi Jinping is deliberately pursuing a political strategy to make international companies dependent on China.
“The results of the recently concluded Communist Party congress are clear: the clarifications of Marxism-Leninism occupy a much wider space than the conclusions of previous congresses… As China changes, our relationship with China must also change. too, – wrote Scholz.
Germany has come under fire in recent years for emphasizing Europe’s crippling strategic dependence on Russian gas, and now Berlin is being forced to counter suggestions that it is making the same mistakes by relying on China as a manufacturing base and commercial partner.
While Scholz sounded a note of caution about China, he stopped short of suggesting that Germany is nearing a major turning point in its largely cozy relationship with China. Indeed, he urged his predecessor, Angela Merkel (unnamed but clearly identified), to insist that the United States should not drag Germany into a new Cold War against Beijing.
“Germany, of all the countries that had such a painful experience of division during the Cold War, is not interested in the emergence of new blocs in the world,” he wrote. “What this means for China, of course, is that this country, with its 1.4 billion people and economic power, will play a major role on the world stage in the future – as it has for a long time throughout history.”
In a veiled criticism of Washington’s policy, Scholz said Beijing’s rise could not justify “the call by some to isolate China.”
Most importantly, he said, the goal is not to “disengage” from China or sever industrial ties. However, he added that he is taking “seriously” the assertion of President Xi that Beijing’s goal is to “increase the dependence of international production chains on China.”
Scholz is scheduled to fly to Beijing on Thursday evening for a day trip to the Chinese capital on Friday, where Xi will meet a Western leader for the first time since his re-election and the first leader of a group of major G7 economies. Visiting China since the coronavirus pandemic.
The chancellor also pushed back against criticism that his visit would undermine Europe’s cooperative relationship with China. According to French officials, President Emmanuel Macron offered Scholz and Xi to go together to show unity and show that Beijing cannot divide European countries by playing their economic interests against each other – an initiative rejected by the German leader.
Scholz wrote: “Germany’s policy towards China will only be successful if it is included in Europe’s policy towards China.” “Ahead of my visit, we have been in close contact with our European partners, including President Macron, as well as our transatlantic friends.”
Scholz said he wants Germany and the EU to cooperate with a rising China, including on the critical issue of climate change – rather than trying to destroy it.
At the same time, he warned Beijing that it should not pursue a policy aimed at “hegemonic Chinese supremacy, or even a Sinocentric world order.”
Scholz also urged China to end its support for Russia’s war against Ukraine and take a more critical stance towards Moscow: “As a permanent member [United Nations] The Security Council, China bears special responsibility, he wrote. “Clear words from Beijing to Moscow are important to ensure compliance with the Charter of the United Nations and its principles.”
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