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China's Xi and Germany's Scholz warn against trade barriers

Published April 16, 2024last updated April 16, 2024

The German chancellor has met Chinese President Xi Jinping as a three-day visit to Berlin's biggest trading partner draws to a close. Both leaders underlined the need to avoid economic protectionism.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz with Xi Jinping in Beijing
The German chancellor was making his first visit since his government presented its "China Strategy" last yearImage: Michael Kappeler/dpa/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is at the tail end of his trip to China on Tuesday, meeting Chinese leader Xi and Premier Li Qiang in Beijing.

The whistle-stop tour has seen him visit the southwestern megacity of Chongqing and the economic powerhouse of Shanghai.

A meeting with Chinese Premier Li Qiang was also on the agenda, as was a press conference with the German-Chinese economic committee. 

The visit comes as Germany and its Western allies confront China on a range of issues, including trade, Taiwan, human rights, and its ties with Russia.

This live updates article has been closed. Thank you for reading. 

You can catch up on the details of Scholz's visit to China here:

Skip next section Scholz praises pragmatic environment in China talks
April 16, 2024

Scholz praises pragmatic environment in China talks

After meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping and  Premier Li Qiang, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz praised the "calm and honest" talks they had on bilateral relations between China and Germany.

According to Scholz, they also discussed Russia's war in Ukraine, as well as the war in Gaza.

"It is important for Germany and all other friends of Ukraine to keep supporting Ukraine as long as it takes," he reiterated.

Scholz added that diplomatic efforts to end the war will continue and that the negotiations he led in China are a "building block" that will contribute to those discussions.

The German chancellor also said that the issue of selling "dual-use goods" to Russia had been discussed with Xi, without elaborating on the results of these talks.

Scholz said he believes he has seen positive developments on economic issues that need to be discussed urgently, such as a level playing field for German companies in China. 

"I have found a pragmatic environment which is also a sign," he said.

Issues such as copyright, intellectual property, and access to public tenders were also discussed with the Chinese leadership, Scholz said, expressing hope that these discussions will quickly translate into concrete actions.

Scholz says China and Germany clearly against nuclear threats

Skip next section Scholz says he asked China's Xi to pressure Russia to end war
April 16, 2024

Scholz says he asked China's Xi to pressure Russia to end war

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to use his influence over Russia to stop the war in Ukraine.

Following a meeting with Xi, Scholz said on X, formerly Twitter, that "China's word carries weight in Russia."

"I have therefore asked President Xi to influence Russia so that Putin finally calls off his senseless campaign, withdraws his troops and ends this terrible war," he said, adding that Xi had agreed to back a peace conference on the war in Switzerland.

Scholz also said that both leaders had rejected attacks on nuclear facilities after attacks against Europe's largest such station, the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.

Both Moscow and Kyiv have blamed one another for the attacks.

On the final day of his trip to China, the chancellor also said China had agreed to open up beef and apple imports from Germany and facilitate pork imports. 

Scholz said Europe needed to reduce economic risks, intensify existing contacts and building new ones.

Germany's 'de-risking' strategy not seen pursued with clarity

Skip next section In pictures: Scholz meets Xi in Beijing
April 16, 2024

In pictures: Scholz meets Xi in Beijing

Here are some images of the German Chancellors most important day during his trip to China: 

The German flag at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing
China and Germany have "huge" potential for "win-win cooperation" that needs to be tapped, Xi told ScholzImage: Michael Kappeler/dpa/picture alliance
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz met President Xi Jinping in the Chinese capital
Scholz met Xi at Beijing's Diaoyutai State GuesthouseImage: Michael Kappeler/dpa/picture alliance
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz inspects a guard of honor during a welcoming ceremony in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing
Scholz said he hoped Berlin and Beijing could help achieve a "just peace" in UkraineImage: Michael Kappeler/dpa/picture alliance
Chinese President Xi Jinping welcomes German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Beijing for talks
It is Scholz's second trip to China since he became chancellor in 2021Image: Michael Kappeler/dpa/picture alliance
Skip next section Talks with Premier Li Quiang 'candid, constructive'
April 16, 2024

Talks with Premier Li Quiang 'candid, constructive'

Chinese Premier Li Qiang told German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that China and Germany should strengthen economic and trade cooperation with both countries agreeing their economic interests are deeply intertwined. 

Li said that, in talks with Scholz, the pair had a "candid, constructive" exchange on issues including the expectations of economic and trade cooperation between the two countries.

China and Germany should further bring close economic and trade cooperation to maximize mutual benefits and win-win results, Li said.

"Derisking" has also emerged as a core theme of Germany and the EU's economic policy towards China in light of Russia's war in Ukraine, which exposed both the country and the bloc's energy dependence on Moscow.

Talking to Scholz earlier, President Xi Jinping had emphasized that the "industrial and supply chains of China and Germany are deeply embedded in each other."

Skip next section China releases handout of Scholz-Xi meeting
April 16, 2024

China releases handout of Scholz-Xi meeting

Chinese offficials have provided a summary of how the meeting between Olaf Scholz and Xi Jinping went.

In the meeting, Xi hailed "the tenth anniversary of an all-round strategic partnership between China and Germany."

"Despite tremendous changes in the international landscape, China-Germany relations have maintained steady growth and bilateral cooperation has strengthened and deepened across the board."

The Chinese leader also warned against economic protectionism and said both economies, and the rest of the world, could only benefit from their cooperation.

"As China and Germany are respectively the second and third-largest economies in the world, the consolidation and development of their relations carries significance that goes beyond the bilateral scope and has a major impact on the Eurasian continent and the entire world."

The document also said that the leaders had "an in-depth exchange of views on the Ukraine crisis."

"China will maintain close communication with all parties concerned including Germany, on this matter."

Skip next section Scholz keen to see better conditions for German firms in China
April 16, 2024

Scholz keen to see better conditions for German firms in China

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says he wants to work with the Chinese leadership to improve conditions for German companies in the world's second-largest economy.

"They need the right framework conditions," Scholz said in the run-up to a meeting with China's Premier Li Qiang.

"By this, we mean equal market access and fair competitive conditions, the protection of intellectual property and a reliable legal system."

Skip next section German delegation says talks were 'good'
April 16, 2024

German delegation says talks were 'good'

DW correspondent Michaela Kuefner, who is traveling with Chancellor Olaf Scholz's team in China, says the meeting with President Xi Jinping is over.

Kuefner said the delegation didn't give much away, simply saying that the talks had been "good."

After the meeting, the two men strolled in the grounds of the Diaoyutai state guesthouse, a sprawling complex of villas, lakes and gardens. 

Skip next section Scholz warns Ukraine war risks international order
April 16, 2024

Scholz warns Ukraine war risks international order

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has warned that the ongoing Russian war against Ukraine risks damaging the "entire international order."

Scholz said the war and "Russia's rearmament" violated "a principle of the United Nations Charter, the principle of the inviolability of state borders."

The comments came at the beginning of his meeting with Xi. Scholz also spoke about how important it was that China and Germany cooperate on climate change action.

Germany's chancellor spoke of the danger posed by nuclear escalation as well. "It is clear, we both made it clear at our last meetings here in Beijing, that the use of nuclear weapons should not even be threatened," he said.

"I would like to discuss with you today how we can contribute more to a just peace in Ukraine."

Ahead of Scholz's visit, Washington accused China of massively supporting the Russian arms sector.

Skip next section Germany, China to discuss 'just peace' in Ukraine
April 16, 2024

Germany, China to discuss 'just peace' in Ukraine

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday he would discuss peace in Ukraine with Chinese President Xi Jinping during their meeting in Beijing. 

"My meeting with President Xi will also focus on how we can contribute more to a just peace in Ukraine," Scholz said on social media platform X, adding that this follows "intensive exchanges" between their governments.

Western countries have sought to isolate Russia since it launched an all-out invasion of its neighbor in February 2022. However, despite remaining outwardly neutral, Beijing has remained the Kremlin's most important ally.

Skip next section China's Xi tells Scholz to seek 'common ground'
April 16, 2024

China's Xi tells Scholz to seek 'common ground'

Chinese President Xi Jinping says bilateral ties with Germany will develop steadily provided that both states respect one another's differences and that they seek "common ground."

"We must view and develop bilateral relations in an all-round way from a long-term and strategic perspective," Xi told German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in the Chinese capital, Beijing.

The German chancellor is on a three-day visit to China — his first trip there since Berlin launched a "de-risking" strategy last year aimed at stopping Germany from being too closely linked to the world's second-largest economy.

"As long as both sides adhere to mutual respect, seek common ground while reserving differences, communicate and learn from each other, and achieve win-win co-operation, relations between the two countries will continue to develop steadily," Xi told Scholz.

Scholz on Monday said competition between China and Germany needed to be fair, warning the Chinese leadership against taking a protectionist stance in the auto industry.

Decouple from China? Not quite yet

Skip next section Why is Scholz in China?
April 16, 2024

Why is Scholz in China?

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is wrapping up athree-day trip to China todaywith a meeting with Chinese leader Xi and  Premier Li Qiang in Beijing. 

Scholz has been traveling with top executives from Germany as he seeks to strike a balance in relations with China. German companies have been pressing for what they characterise as fairer access to the Chinese market. Europe has been worried about a glut of Chinese goods flooding the European market.

Scholz's visit comes after Berlin drew up a China strategy last yearthat aims to reduce economic exposure to the Asian powerhouse. The strategy has been vague on specific measures or binding targets, but Scholz has already raised the issue of fair competition while speaking with students at Tongji University in Shanghai on Monday.

He said Chinese cars were welcome on the German market so long as competition was "fair." "In other words, that there is no dumping, that there is no overproduction, that copyrights are not infringed," Scholz told students.

He called for China to establish a level playing field for trade. The German government and German businesses are also wary of any potential future conflict over Taiwan.

rc/rm (Reuters, AP, AFP)