German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrived in China on Friday, making him the first head of a G-7 state to travel to China since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a whirlwind visit: At just 11 hours, it was the shortest ever trip to China by a German leader.
The trip was fraught with controversy long before Scholz’s departure, with coalition partners at home and other European governments raising concerns about a possible regression back to the Merkel era, when Germany prioritized economic ties with China over entering counter threats to Beijing’s efforts to effect change. world order.
It particularly resonated with many observers, along with Scholz what the Economist described as “12 CEOs of German blue-chip firms, including the heads of Merck, a drug company, Siemens, an engineering behemoth, and Volkswagen, the biggest car maker in Europe.” That alone suggested a return to the “business first” approach under Scholz’s predecessor.
Other concerned observers, in late October Scholz approved a deal for China to buy a partial stake in the German port of Hamburg – despite deep opposition from his own ministers and foreign partners such as the United States.
Scholz defended his trip as a way “for a frank and honest exchange with China” in a pre-event op-ed published in Politico. The op-ed began with the admission that “