Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz welcomed his Chinese counterpart Li Qiang at a joint press briefing following the plenary session in the Federal Chancellery. "Direct dialogue, face-to-face talks, a real exchange of views," he said, "are all even more important than usual in these extraordinary times of global challenges and crises." All these things, he added, contributed to a better mutual understanding, and made it possible to talk directly about issues on which there were differing opinions and positions. "We should continue our dialogue in order to gain a good understanding of each other and to be able to face the current global challenges together," Scholz said.
Promoting social discourse
Referring to the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, Federal Chancellor Scholz emphasised the importance of cooperation in the field of international trade relations, and especially in the health sector on a multilateral basis both under the auspices of the WHO and bilaterally. Furthermore, he stated: "The important thing is that social contacts are now taking place again both in the field of science and research as well as discussions between think tanks," because, he said, open discussions leave less room for misunderstandings.
However, he added, freedom and openness are also prerequisites for journalism: "German news correspondents," Scholz said, "are keen to report from China, but to do so they need access to the country, and we are committed to making this happen." He reiterated the commitment to interpersonal relationships in this context and stressed that: "These now have to be reflected in reality."
Collaboration in the climate and environmental sectors
The Federal Chancellor emphasised the closer collaboration taking place in the fight against climate change, a global phenomenon that does not respect national borders. "As major carbon emitters" he said, "both Germany and China have a particular responsibility when it comes to combating climate change, a responsibility that we shall face together."
During the intergovernmental consultations, Germany and China agreed to establish a climate and transformation dialogue aimed at taking pragmatic action to expedite the transformation through dialogue and concrete collaboration.
"Every tonne of CO2 emissions we eliminate contributes to the reduction of global warming," the Federal Chancellor stressed. Our shared goals, he said, were to make industrial processes more climate-friendly, to expedite the energy transition, to promote the transition to climate-friendly mobility, and to boost the circular economy.
Scholz explained that the talks had touched upon the expansion of wind power and solar energy, the use of renewable energies, and experiences related to a gradual reduction of coal power: "Our aim," he explained, "is to join forces and share experiences with a view to further reducing greenhouse gas emissions."
Both governments also wish to collaborate more closely in the environmental sector, to which end, government ministers will meet at a Chinese-German Environment Forum in early November. In addition, a German-Chinese Memorandum of Understanding on electric and hydrogen mobility was signed yesterday with the aim of continuing technical exchanges relating to safety, regulation, and standardisation.
Stance on the Russian offensive against Ukraine
The Federal Chancellor made reference to Russia's brutal invasion of Ukraine and its consequences: "Once again," he stressed, "I have appealed to the Chinese government to exert even more influence on Russia in relation to this war." China, he pointed out, bore a special responsibility in this regard as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
In particular, he said, it was important that China continued not to supply weapons to Russia, the aggressor. "During my trip to Beijing in November," Scholz said, "President Xi and I also made it clear that the threat of nuclear weapons, let alone their actual use, must not be tolerated. Our positions remain unchanged in this regard, and I am grateful for our mutual clear stand on the matter."
The Federal Chancellor again referred to the United Nations Charter and the right to territorial integrity and sovereignty enshrined therein. "This rules-based international order, and not the rule of brute force, is the bedrock of peaceful coexistence around the world."
This was why, he said, peace had to be based on international law and Ukraine's rights as a sovereign state. "One thing is clear," he added: "national borders must be respected; no country should consider other countries as their 'backyard' and attempt to move borders by force; imperialism is never the solution." The important thing now, he said, was to avert a "frozen conflict". Unless Russia withdraws its troops, he stated, it would not be possible to achieve a lasting peace.
Cooperation on food security and the reduction of poverty
The Federal Chancellor explained that in view of the increasing challenges to global stability, Germany would be working more closely with China to increase food security and provide support for countries with high levels of national debt. He said that the intention was to work together to find solutions and help countries in which hunger, hyperinflation, and high levels of national debt are leading to dangerous instability, conflict, and migration. The greater the international role, the greater the responsibility he explained which was why the two countries wanted to collaborate constructively, especially under the auspices of the G20: "China is the world's largest bilateral creditor, which is why it also has a special role to play with regard to these issues." On this note, Scholz announced the third German-Chinese Financial Summit, which will take place in Berlin later this year.
Closer economic relations
The Federal Chancellor praised the dynamic economic relations as an important and constitutive part of the bilateral relationship. Regarding the challenges involved, he re-emphasised the fact that: "We are not interested in any form of economic decoupling from China, a point recently reiterated by the G7 countries in Hiroshima."
However, he added, gaining access to the Chinese market and fair competitive conditions were still challenges for German and other foreign companies in China, and Germany expected to see tangible improvements in these areas. A prerequisite for this, he said, was a "level playing field", which Germany would strive to achieve.
He also drew attention to the German Supply Chain Act in this context, which applies worldwide and will serve to improve respect for human rights: "Both our countries share a common interest in dignified production conditions and improvements in the human rights situation," he said whilst drawing particular attention to the universally binding Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Federal Chancellor underlined the importance of making a concerted effort to expand economic relations: "Rather than closing ourselves off to any one partner," he said, "we wish to establish and expand balanced partnerships throughout Asia and beyond."
In addition to the Federal Chancellor and Premier Li Qiang, the heads of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Action, the Federal Foreign Office, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport, the Federal Ministry of Finance, the Federal Ministry of Justice, the Federal Ministry of Health, and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research as well as their Chinese counterparts participated in the intergovernmental consultations.
Joint participation in the German-Chinese Economic Forum
Following the intergovernmental consultations, the Federal Chancellor and the Chinese Prime Minister met with business representatives from both countries at the closing plenary session of the 11th German-Chinese Forum for Economic and Technological Cooperation. They were joined by Robert Habeck, the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, as well as the Chinese Minister of Trade and the Chairman of the State Development and Reform Commission.
The Federal Chancellor referred to the challenging geopolitical situation in his closing speech and stressed that: "Reliable regulations and a stable global political order are of particular importance for exporting nations such as China and Germany."
Both countries, he said, wanted to continue their economic growth, benefiting from trade with one another as well as from mutual investments in addition to which, he added the two countries were also keen to collaborate closely on the development of climate-friendly technologies. "We wish to continue and expand within the context of the climate and transformation dialogue," Scholz pointed out.
"However," the Federal Chancellor also stressed: "It would clearly be easier for every country in the world to meet its climate targets if we embrace fair competition, open market access, and a level playing field, because competition breeds innovation. However," Scholz added, the transformation would only succeed "if we share technologies whilst respecting copyright protections".
The challenges of globalisation
With regard to globalisation, the Federal Chancellor stressed the fact that: "Whereas a global division of labour has historically resulted in greater prosperity, the pandemic and other geopolitical developments have heightened concerns about supply chain disruptions and risky interdependencies."
Scholz explained that risk mitigation had nothing to do with turning away from globalisation. "On the contrary," he said: "open and properly regulated global trade increases the resilience, strength, and prosperity of our economies, because it gives us access to different suppliers, different locations, and multiple markets." A well-functioning economic relationship between China and Germany, he said, was in our mutual interest.
Federal Chancellor Scholz invited Prime Minister Li Qiang to bilateral talks at a dinner in the Chancellery on Monday evening.