Scholz’s diplomatic journey to China: Fostering positive outcomes

Imran Khalid

Pakistan (Brussels Morning Newspaper), Amidst the cacophony of negative commentary from certain Western media quarters, the Just-concluded of  German Chancellor Scholz to China is being considered as a pivotal moment in Sino-German relations. Far from bowing to the discordant cacophony, this diplomatic stride promises to forge even stronger ties between the two economic powerhouses. 

The three-day sojourn concluded on a positive note with a separate meeting between President Xi Jinping and Chancellor Scholz in Beijing. In this strategic exchange, President Xi Jinping underscored the symbiotic nexus between China and Germany, dismissing notions of peril and instead extolling the assurances and prospects for robust bilateral relations.

Scholz’s meticulously crafted agenda reflected his desire to nurture robust economic and industrial bonds with China. It exemplified a strategic blueprint aimed at fostering synergistic partnerships that transcend conventional geopolitical constraints. His visit to Chongqing inaugurated his three-day odyssey, his second since assuming the chancellorship. Accompanying him was an impressive entourage comprising three cabinet ministers and top executives from eminent German firms like Siemens, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW. 

Amidst apprehensions surrounding the inundation of European markets with Chinese goods, German Chancellor Scholz’s recent visit to China takes on heightened significance. Coinciding with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s vocal critique of China’s state-supported overproduction, particularly in sectors like electric vehicles and green technologies, Scholz’s emphasis on fair competition underscores Germany’s resolve to uphold a level playing field.

During his visit in China, Scholz advocated for equitable trade practices, underscoring the importance of copyright protection and anti-dumping measures. German companies are deeply rooted in the Chinese market. Across sectors ranging from manufacturing to financial services, these joint ventures reflect the symbiotic synergy between two economic powerhouses. Scholz’s “high-profile” visit to China signifies, in many aspects, a resurgence of steady bilateral relations.  The scrutiny surrounding this visit underscores the prevailing ambiguity toward China in Germany and Europe. Certain quarters of the German media likened the affair to a redux of the “Merkel era,” referencing her legacy of pragmatic engagement, rational discourse, and mutual benefit characterizing German-Chinese relations. 

For nearly five decades, Germany has remained China’s largest trading partner in Europe. Simultaneously, China has held the mantle of Germany’s primary global trading ally for eight consecutive years, emblematic of their interwoven commercial interests. Recent data from German institutions reveals record-high investments in China, exemplified by Volkswagen’s substantial €2.5 billion expansion initiative.

These developments highlight the imperative of pragmatic cooperation between the two nations, transcending mere choice to become an indispensable necessity for sustaining economic vitality and fostering continued growth. Competition, particularly in select sectors, is an undeniable facet of China-Germany relations. However, beneath the surface, Scholz’s visit and the sustained investment of German companies in China underscore the vast potential for rational and pragmatic cooperation. The scope for mutually beneficial outcomes and win-win scenarios remains expansive and should not be underestimated. 

Despite contentious issues, both China and Germany are displaying the wisdom and capability to navigate challenges and forge solutions. Thus, while competition may persist, the broader imperative of cooperation and collaboration remains paramount for both nations. Despite calls for “de-risking,” German companies continue to invest in China. The German Economic Institute (IW) reports a record-high German direct investment in China, reaching €11.9 billion ($12.7 billion) in 2023, marking a 4.3 percent year-on-year increase.

This surge in investment propels China’s share of Germany’s outward investment to 10.3 percent, the highest since 2014. Surveys indicate that over 90 percent of German companies intend to maintain business operations in China, with more than half planning increased investment over the next two years, according to the Business Confidence Survey 2023/24 by the German Chamber of Commerce in China.

These findings underscore the resilience and confidence of German businesses in China’s economic landscape, defying narratives of risk aversion and affirming a steadfast commitment to bilateral economic engagement.

Scholz’s also visit coincided with the milestone of the 10th anniversary of the China-Germany comprehensive strategic partnership, symbolizing a pivotal moment in bilateral and China-Europe relations. Amidst global uncertainties, the significance of interactions between these economic titans cannot be overstated. Scholz’s diplomatic initiative underscores the enduring importance of dialogue and communication, even amidst tumultuous times.

In the face of adversity, mutual respect and pragmatic cooperation remain guiding principles for nurturing robust relationships. As the world grapples with challenges and changes, Scholz’s engagement with China serves as an example of diplomatic wisdom, highlighting the enduring value of engagement and collaboration in navigating the complexities of an ever-evolving global landscape. Thus, his visit will not only strengthen ties between China and Germany but also with other European countries.

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Imran Khalid is a reelance columnist on international affairs and I have been regularly contributing articles on international l affairs to some of the prestigious publications including the South China Morning Post, the Korea Times, the Jakarta Post, the New Straits Times (Malaysia), the Daily Sabah (Turkiye),the New Age (Bangladesh),the Oman Observer, the Guardian (Nigeria), the Ceylon Today (Sri Lanka) , the Geopolitical Monitor, the Manila Times, the AJU Business Daily and Mail & Guardian (South Africa) etc. He is based in Karachi, Pakistan.