Olaf Scholz is about to board the plane and fly to Beijing. Tomorrow he will meet Xi Jinping there. Germany’s chancellor has managed to sow mistrust twice over with his China policy. Is the damage worth it?
China – and bye? No, says Olaf Scholz. He doesn’t want a “decoupling”. That’s why Cosco is allowed to have a terminal in the port of Hamburg. Chinese state media – there are no others – celebrate Germany’s chancellor for this “great gift”.
The big gift turned out to be smaller than planned. 24.9 instead of 35 percent. Responsible for this, however, is not traffic light reason, but US pressure.
The American government intervened with von Scholz via the US embassy, and the Americans are spreading this salt in traffic light wounds. Greens plus FDP against SPD Chancellor. This is how it currently looks.
That’s how it was with Russia, that’s how it is now with China. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock from Central Asia reminds the holder of the policy authority of the coalition agreement he signed.
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And FDP Vice Johannes Vogel demands that in the new China strategy “to say clearly where we want to keep Chinese influence completely out.”
It’s going to be a strange visit anyway. Every Chinese – except Xi Jinping, the party emperor – who meets one of the Scholz squad must then be quarantined for seven to ten days.
This is what the dictator’s zero-Covid strategy demands. For the German managers who accompany Scholz, these are not sunny prospects. Who do you think she will want to meet?
It’s interesting who isn’t there. The BDI President, of all people. Siegfried Russwurm is not as comfortable as he looks. There are ethical limits for German companies in China, and forced labor is one of them.
After Russwurm announced this, the Chancellor preferred to fly without the top representative of the industry. “It’s almost undignified,” says Green China expert Reinhard Bütikofer.
He is currently with a European delegation in the place where the Chinese least want to see foreign politicians – in Taiwan. In that democratic country that wants to bring Scholz’s interlocutor home to his totalitarian empire.
First the Cosco deal and now the non-acceptance of a prominent China skeptic. Olaf Scholz’s China policy is reminiscent of the heckling that the Green Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck made in front of the Qatari sheik – on the then unsuccessful search for desert gas.
First Russia, then China – in foreign policy, the mistrust of the traffic light parties is currently growing. Scholz is pursuing a policy, says Bütikofer in a FAZ podcast, as sharply as it is precise, “which is completely contrary to what the SPD signed in the coalition agreement”. Instead of a value-oriented policy on China, “Merkel as usual”.
Angela Merkel has been to China 12 times in 16 years and as a human rights activist she has not attracted attention there. Otherwise she wouldn’t have been allowed to come back so often. The Chinese have banned people like Bütikofer from entering the country.
Will Scholz address this sanction against a celebrity from his coalition partner’s party tomorrow with Xi? At least he didn’t announce it.
Scholz duped Joe Biden and Emanuel Macron alike about the Cosco deal and his trip to China, apart from his two coalition partners. No wonder the one-day trip to China is met with double distrust – domestic and foreign.
So that Germany’s big industry, which, like VW, has become heavily dependent on China, can continue to do good business there undisturbed, the Chancellor has alienated allies by the dozen:
The most important international ally, the USA, whose administration, which is actually friendly, is doing the opposite of Scholz, namely cutting off China from critical technology exports.
And: France, the most important European partner, when Scholz decided to fly to Beijing without Macron. Plus the Greens – it’s not every day that the Green Foreign Minister says about her Red Prime Minister that it was Scholz who decided “the time” of his trip.
Which sounds just a little more diplomatic than the accusation by opposition leader Friedrich Merz that Scholz could hardly have chosen a worse time for his visit to China.
The coalition agreement of the traffic light parties not only contains the value foreign policy – this is much more than “just” human rights – but also the European and international integration of German foreign policy.
Scholz attached importance to the non-delivery of German tanks to Ukraine, but not to China investments or his own inaugural visit. There was a different rule of the game. It reads: “Scholz first.”
The Scholz visit is more than convenient for Xi. In this way, the China man can demonstrate to his own people that China is not as isolated in the West as the American system rivals would like us to believe. No wonder Scholz is under special American observation.
Especially since it is part of the nature of a totalitarian state to subordinate the economy to the politics of the autocrat. Cosco is not just a logistics company. But also a company, one could learn that in the meantime, which is closely intertwined with China’s KP in terms of personnel.
And who has also helped with military exercises with the “People’s Liberation Army”. So, if you look closely, Olaf Scholz did a lot of damage with a week of China politics. Just why?
Because the Volkswagen company, in which the state of Lower Saxony and thus the social democrat Stefan Weil, like Sigmar Gabriel and Gerhard Schröder before him, now makes 50 percent of its profits with its cars in China?
Or the company BASF is opening a chemical company there for ten billion euros, combined with a gradual decoupling of Old Germany, which may be global but not patriotic?
Or because the fate of the German energy transition depends on the well-being of China, supplying the Germans with the rare earths without which local engineers can manufacture electric motors just as little as wind turbines?
Or because Scholz might even really think he can dissuade Xi from supporting Vladimir Putin – even though that would mean thwarting his own strategy of forming a Sino-Russian alliance against the Americans?
Or should it be as easy as Reinhard Bütikofer believes? Olaf Scholz, the Green muses about the Chancellor’s motivation, “he thinks he’s going to make big politics”.