Scholz Xi Jinping
© PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP via Getty ImagesGerman Chancellor Olaf Scholz will be the first G7 leader to visit China since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic when he flies to Beijing to meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping
Olaf Scholz is the chancellor of Germany.

It's been a good three years since my predecessor last visited China. Three years during which the challenges and risks that we face have increased — here in Europe, in East Asia and, of course, also in Sino-German relations. Three years during which the world has fundamentally changed — due to the COVID-19 pandemic on the one hand, and Russia's war against Ukraine on the other, with its severe repercussions for the international order, our food and energy supply, the economy and prices worldwide.

Meetings such as this weren't possible for a long time because of the pandemic and Beijing's strict measures to contain it. Direct conversation is, thus, all the more important now. And it is precisely because "business as usual" is no longer an option in these circumstances that I'm traveling to Beijing.

I will be setting off on this trip with five considerations in mind.

First, today's China isn't the same as the China of five or 10 years ago. The outcome of the Communist Party Congress that just concluded is unambiguous: Avowals of Marxism-Leninism now take up a much broader space than in the conclusions of previous congresses. The quest for national security — synonymous with the stability of the communist system — and national autonomy will be more significant going forward. And as China changes, the way that we deal with China must change too.

Second, it's not only China that has changed, but so has the world. Russia's war against Ukraine is brutally jeopardizing the international peace and security order.

Comment: Russia is so abhorrent, and Germany is so principled, that Scholz is visiting China - one of Russia's main allies - to talk business?

Russian President Vladimir Putin no longer hesitates even to threaten the use of nuclear weapons, thus threatening to cross a redline drawn by humanity as a whole.

Comment: Yawn...clearly Scholz is getting all the propaganda points and posturing in, first.

At the beginning of this year, in a joint statement with other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, China expressed clear opposition to use, or even threaten to use, nuclear weapons. As a permanent member of the Security Council, China bears a special responsibility. Clear words addressed from Beijing to Moscow are important to ensure that the Charter of the United Nations and its principles are upheld.

These principles include the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of all states. No country is the "backyard" of another.

Comment: Scholz must be reluctant to admit the number of US bases in Germany.

What is true in Europe regarding Ukraine is also true in Asia, Africa or Latin America.

It is here that new centers of power are emerging in a multipolar world, and we aim to establish and expand partnerships with all of them.

Comment: And Russia was one of the super powers involved in creating and making viable the multipolar world alternative.

Thus, in recent months, we have carried out in-depth coordination at the international level — with close partners such as Japan and Korea, India and Indonesia, and countries in Africa and Latin America too.

Comment: Note that the vast majority of these places listed above have good working relations with Russia, some even reject calls to condemn Russia's incursion into Ukraine.

At the end of next week, I will travel to Southeast Asia and the G20 summit, and while I'm visiting China, Germany's federal president will be in Japan and Korea.

Of all the countries in the world, Germany — which had such a painful experience of division during the Cold War — has no interest in seeing new blocs emerge in the world.

Comment: Indeed, none of this is in the best interests of Germany, which makes it abundantly clear that the self-sabotage it is currently involved in is at the behest of its masters in the US.

The new United States National Security Strategy also rightly emphasizes the goal of preventing a new confrontation between opposed blocs.

What this means, with regard to China, is that this country, with its 1.4 billion inhabitants and its economic power will, of course, play a key role on the world stage in the future — just as it has done for long periods throughout history. But this justifies neither the calls by some to isolate China, nor a quest for hegemonic Chinese dominance, or even a Sino-centric world order.

Third, even in changed circumstances, China remains an important business and trading partner for Germany and Europe — we don't want to decouple from it. But what does China want?

China's "dual circulation" economic strategy is designed to strengthen the domestic market and reduce dependencies on other countries.

Comment: As we can see with the West's current self-inflicted energy crisis, self-sufficiency is important, and indepedence is critical; however, as we've also seen, 100% self-sufficiency in an interconnected world isn't actually possible.

In a speech in late 2020, President Xi Jinping also spoke of utilizing Chinese technologies to "tighten international production chains' dependence on China." We take statements such as this seriously, and will, therefore, dismantle one-sided dependencies in the interest of smart diversification, which requires prudence and pragmatism.

A significant amount of trade between Germany and China concerns products where there is neither a lack of alternative suppliers nor a risk of dangerous monopolies. Instead, China, Germany and Europe benefit equally. But where risky dependencies have developed — for important raw materials, some rare earths or certain cutting-edge technologies, for example — our businesses are now rightly putting their supply chains on a broader footing. And we are supporting them in this, for example with new raw material partnerships.

With Chinese investment in Germany, too, we will differentiate based on whether this business creates, or exacerbates, risky dependencies. That was, incidentally, the yardstick applied by the federal government to the purchase of a minority stake in a terminal at Hamburg port by the Chinese shipping firm Cosco. Clear conditions were imposed, and the terminal will now remain fully under the control of the City of Hamburg and the port operator.

Diversification and strengthening of our own resilience, instead of protectionism and withdrawal into our own market — that is our stance, in Germany and in the European Union.

We are far — too far — from reciprocity in relations between China and Germany, whether in regard to market access for businesses, to licenses, to the protection of intellectual property or issues of legal certainty and equal treatment for our nationals. We will continue to insist on reciprocity. And where China refuses to allow this reciprocity, it cannot be without consequences. Differentiating in our dealings with China like this is in line with Germany's and Europe's long-term strategic interests.

Fourth, earlier this year in Davos, President Xi said: "The world is developing through the movement of contradictions; without contradiction, nothing would exist." This means permitting and enduring contradiction. It means not avoiding difficult issues in discussions with one another. These include respect for civil and political liberties, as well as the rights of ethnic minorities, for example in Xinjiang province.

The tense situation around Taiwan is also of concern. Like the U.S. and many other countries, we pursue a One-China policy. Part of this policy is, however, that any change to the status quo must be brought about by peaceful means and mutual agreement. Our policy is aligned with the aims of preserving the rules-based order, resolving conflicts peacefully, protecting human rights and the rights of minorities, and ensuring free and fair world trade.

Comment: If the above was true, why is Germany withholding the Nord Stream terrorist attack report?

Fifth, and finally, if I am traveling to Beijing as Germany's federal chancellor, I'm also doing so as a European. Not to speak on behalf of all of Europe — that would be presumptuous and wrong — but because German policy on China can only be successful when it is embedded in European policy on China.

In the run-up to my visit, we have, therefore, liaised closely with our European partners, including French President Macron, and with our transatlantic friends.

The EU has accurately described China as filling the threefold role of partner, competitor and rival — although the elements of rivalry and competition have certainly increased in recent years. We must address this by accepting the competition, and by taking the consequences of this systemic rivalry seriously and accounting for them in our policymaking. At the same time, we must explore where cooperation remains in our mutual interest. Ultimately, the world needs China — for example, in the fight against pandemics such as COVID-19.

China also has a crucial role to play in ending the worldwide food crisis, in supporting highly indebted countries and in reaching the U.N.'s Sustainable Development Goals.

Without resolute action to reduce emissions in China, we cannot win the fight against climate change.

Comment: Scholz is spouting much of this climate nonsense for the Politco readership, because China has made it clear that it will not desindustrialise to appease the ideologues in the UN, as the West is doing, and is demanding others do.

It is, therefore, good to see that Beijing has set ambitious targets for expanding renewables, and I will be advocating for China to join us in taking on more responsibility still for protecting the climate, not least at the international level.

We are aware that we are in competition when it comes to climate-friendly technologies too — for the most efficient products, the smartest ideas, the most successful implementation of our plans. However, this requires China not closing its market to our climate-friendly technologies. We are facing up to the competition, as less competition always means less innovation, in which case the loser would be climate protection — and, thus, all of us.

This is a great deal of material for an inaugural visit to Beijing. We will seek cooperation where it lies in our mutual interest, but we will not ignore controversies either. For that is part and parcel of a candid exchange between Germany and China.