German chancellor Scholz defends controversial China visit: ‘It’s right for me to be here’ OLD

German chancellor Olaf Scholz defended his much-scrutinised China visit, saying it was “good and right” for him to be in Beijing.

Mr Scholz’s one-day trip to China on Friday has sparked both domestic and international controversy given Beijing’s support for Russia in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, which has affected Germany’s power supply.

“Ladies and gentlemen, it is good and right that I am here today,” Mr Scholz told reporters, sending a strong message in response to the criticism.

“We can now talk concretely and directly with each other to respond to the challenges the world is facing and the bilateral relations between Europe and China,” he said in a statement.

Mr Scholz, who travelled with several top German business leaders, received a formal welcome from Chinese president Xi Jinping, who was recently reappointed head of the ruling Communist Party.

He has become the first leader of a G7 nation to visit China following the Covid pandemic, which reflects Germany’s crucial trade ties with Beijing, particularly in the auto and manufacturing sectors.

The chancellor’s visit also comes shortly after he pushed through a deal to allow Chinese state-owned shipping company Cosco to buy 24.9 per cent stake in a part of the port of Hamburg despite facing opposition from members of his cabinet.

After a meeting with China’s outgoing premier Li Keqiang, Mr Scholz said he called on Beijing to exert its “influence” on Russia.

“I told president [Xi] that it is important for China to use its influence on Russia,” the German leader said.

President Xi told Mr Scholz that he opposed the use of nuclear force in Europe without naming Russia, in his most direct remarks so far on the escalating crisis.

During their first in-person meeting, Mr Xi called on the international community to “reject the threat of nuclear weapons” and advocate against nuclear war to prevent a “crisis on the Eurasian continent”.

Mr Xi “pointed out that China supports Germany and the EU in playing an important role in promoting peace talks and promoting the building of a balanced, effective and sustainable European security framework,” according to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.

During lunch with the chancellor, Mr Xi stressed that it was easy to destroy political trust, but difficult to rebuild it and both sides need to take care of it.

Earlier, while greeting Mr Scholz at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, the Chinese president urged the two countries to work more closely on international issues.

“As large and influential countries, in times of change and turmoil China and Germany should work together all the more, to make more contributions to world peace and development”, Mr Xi said, according to state broadcaster CCTV. “At present, the international situation is complex and volatile,” he added.

Mr Scholz said he raised concerns about stability in Taiwan with his Chinese counterparts while reaffirming that Germany pursues a one-China policy.

“I have... made it clear that any change in Taiwan’s status quo must be peaceful or by mutual agreement,” he said.