The United States warns of the development of the Chinese nuclear arsenal at a “breathtaking” rate

AFP

Scholz’s plea to Beijing for a rapprochement despite the controversy

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz pleaded in Beijing on Friday for “more” cooperation with China, despite Western mistrust of the second world power, and the two countries opposed any use of the nuclear weapon in Ukraine. “We are not in favor of a decoupling” of economic relations with China, he declared before a meeting with his counterpart Li Keqiang in Beijing. “But it is also clear to us that this is linked to fair economic relations, with reciprocity, to the question of reciprocal openness to investment,” he added. Very controversial, this trip of a few hours is the first of a leader of the European Union and the G7 in China since the start of the pandemic almost three years ago. The visit, which comes just after the reappointment of President Xi Jinping as head of the Chinese Communist Party and his country, is seen with a critical eye in Germany, but also in France, Brussels and Washington. Shortly before, during an interview with President Xi Jinping, Olaf Scholz had indicated that he wanted to “develop further” economic cooperation with Beijing, despite warnings about his country’s excessive dependence on China. “We meet at a time of great tension caused in particular by Russia’s war in Ukraine,” said Mr. Scholz, while China claims its neutrality – seen by Westerners as tacit support for the Kremlin. The chancellor asked President Xi to use “his influence” on Russia so that it ends its “war of aggression” against Ukraine. – Opposition to nuclear power – Germany and China jointly announced on Friday their opposition to any idea of ​​a nuclear strike, while Moscow has repeatedly raised this threat in Ukraine. “The war in Ukraine creates a dangerous situation for the whole world (…) and in China too here we know that an escalation would have consequences for everyone,” Olaf Scholz told the press. “It was very important for me to underline, to say clearly that an escalation” of the war “in the form of the use of a tactical nuclear weapon is excluded”, underlined the chancellor. “I am very happy that on this subject at least an agreement has been reached,” noted Mr. Scholz. The Chinese account also mentions Beijing’s opposition. Reconnecting with the visits to China of his predecessor, the Christian Democrat Angela Merkel (12 trips in 16 years in power), the Social Democrat Scholz is accompanied by a delegation of industrialists, including the bosses of Volkswagen and BASF. However, the dependence of the EU’s largest economy on China, where German companies make a large part of their profits, is increasingly being questioned. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has spoken out to “no longer depend on a country that does not share our values”, at the risk of making herself “politically vulnerable to blackmail”. – “A legitimacy” – “China and Germany must respect each other” and “jointly resist interference” in their relationship, insisted Xi Jinping in front of his guest. “We hope that Germany will pursue a positive policy towards China,” Xi was quoted by state television CCTV as saying. “As long as Germany does not criticize Beijing, relations will be harmonious, this is essentially the message sent” by Xi Jinping, deciphers for AFP Thorsten Benner, of the Institute for Global Public Policy (GPPi) ​​in Berlin. Upon getting off the plane, the German delegation, which numbers around sixty people, was greeted by military guards and health personnel in full suits to carry out screening tests for Covid-19. The strict zero Covid policy has led Beijing to close its borders since 2020. “Despite resentment and pressure against China’s industrial policies”, Mr. Scholz “seems to decide to ignore it for the moment”, notes political scientist Shi Yinhong of Renmin University in Beijing. This trip “gives international legitimacy” to Xi Jinping and “shows that China is not isolated”, told AFP Noah Barkin, researcher at the German Marshall Fund in Berlin. In a statement, the boss of Volkswagen in China, Ralf Brandstatter, flew to the aid of the chancellor: “in Europe and in Germany, many believe that this visit is inappropriate. For me, it is not the case”. “Decoupling cannot be a serious option for the two countries”, he insisted, recalling that “China is Germany’s most important trading partner”. pw-clp-bur/sbr/lch

Leave a Comment