Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) arrived in the People’s Republic of China on Friday for a visit limited to a few hours. Tough talks with Chinese leadership are expected.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has arrived in Beijing for his first visit as German head of government. His plane landed at the airport in the Chinese capital on Friday morning local time. After his arrival, a meeting with head of state and party leader Xi Jinping is on the agenda. Scholz is the first Western head of government to meet Xi Jinping after his re-election as party leader almost two weeks ago.

Because of the continued strict corona restrictions in China, Scholz’s visit lasts only eleven hours, making it shorter than any other chancellor’s trip to the world’s most populous country before. Since the beginning of the pandemic almost three years ago, the chancellor has been the first head of government from the group of large industrialized nations (G7) to visit China again. He also meets Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who is due to step down next March.

The Chancellor is accompanied by around a dozen top managers, including the CEOs of Volkswagen, BMW, BASF, Bayer and Deutsche Bank. Scholz will also meet local company representatives in Beijing. The timing of the trip so soon after the party congress where Xi Jinping further expanded his power is disputed. Chinese dissidents and the World Uyghur Congress had even called for it to be cancelled.

Shortly before his departure, Scholz had announced a new course towards China in the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”. “It is clear that if China changes, the way we deal with China must also change.” In his talks in Beijing, Scholz also wants to address “difficult issues” such as human rights issues and dealing with minorities. Scholz expressed concern about the situation around Taiwan and indirectly warned China of an invasion.