Chancellor Olaf Scholz is leaving for an inaugural visit to Beijing on Thursday. There he will meet President Xi Jinping on Friday – as the first Western head of government since his re-election as party leader. Scholz is now announcing a change of course in politics.

Before his inaugural visit to Beijing, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) announced a change of course towards China. In an article for the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” on Wednesday, he justified this with the results of the party congress of the Chinese Communist Party two weeks ago. The commitment to Marxism-Leninism would have taken up much more space than at previous party congresses.

Striving for the stability of the communist system and national autonomy will become more important in the future. “It is clear that if China changes, the way we deal with China must also change,” emphasized Scholz.

On Thursday, the chancellor is leaving for an eleven-hour visit to Beijing. There he will meet President Xi Jinping – the first Western head of government since his re-election as party leader. The Chancellor rejected criticism of his trip. Because of the pandemic, personal meetings with the Chinese government had not been possible for a long time. “The direct conversation is all the more important now,” says Scholz.

In the newspaper article, the chancellor spoke out against economic decoupling from China. However, one-sided dependencies would have to be eliminated. “Wherever risky dependencies have arisen – for example with important raw materials, some rare earths or certain future technologies – our companies are now rightly expanding their supply chains. We support them in this, for example through new raw material partnerships.”

Scholz announced that he did not want to ignore “difficult issues” in his talks with the Chinese leadership. “This includes respect for civil and political liberties and the rights of ethnic minorities, for example in the province of Xinjiang.” The United Nations Human Rights Office accuses the Chinese leadership of suppressing the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang. The government in Beijing rejects the allegations.

Scholz expressed concern about the tense situation around Taiwan. “Like the United States and many other countries, we are pursuing a one-China policy. This includes, however, that a change in the

Status quo can only take place peacefully and by mutual agreement.” China considers Taiwan, which has a population of 23 million, to be part of the People’s Republic and firmly rejects official contacts from other countries to Taipei. Taiwan, on the other hand, has long considered itself independent. At the party congress, Xi Jinping again threatened to conquer the island.