Our Privacy Statement & Cookie Policy

By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies, revised Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can change your cookie settings through your browser.

I agree

Scholz's visit: A promising momentum in China-Germany ties

Reality Check

 , Updated 15:42, 18-Apr-2024

Editor's note: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Tuesday to conclude a crucial three-day visit to China, seeking to bolster economic cooperation and navigate complex geopolitical challenges. To gain insights into the implications of Chancellor Scholz's high-profile visit that also took him to Shanghai and Chongqing and its significance for the future of China-Germany relations, CGTN's Sr. International Editor Abhishek G. Bhaya spoke with Berthold Kuhn, an international cooperation advisor and adjunct professor, Freie Universität Berlin. Kuhn is also a senior consultant to the European Commission and German international cooperation agencies. The views expressed in the video are his own and not necessarily those of CGTN.

Edited excerpts:

CGTN: What do you believe are the key takeaways from Chancellor Olaf Scholz visit to China in terms of shaping the trajectory of China-Germany relations and their implications for the wider international community?

Berthold Kuhn: I think the momentum of the visit is actually good and promising. Both China and Germany are concerned about their economic development, and about full recovery of bilateral relations exchanges after COVID-19 pandemic. Chancellor Scholz has to strike a balance in addressing sensitive political, geopolitical issues and promoting economic and technical cooperation.

His visits to the companies Bosch (in Chongqing) and Covestro (in Shanghai) I think they demonstrate that Germany is still a very innovative country. (Germany’s) Bosch Powertrain Systems has entered into a joint venture with the premium (Chinese) commercial vehicle manufacturing, Qingling Motors; and Covestro is a leading chemical company involved in polymer manufacturing with the aim to help establish sustainablealternatives to fossil raw materials. So, this is very relevant for Germany as well as China and other countries. And Germany and China, I believe, can jointly lead industrial production for the sustainability transition.

It is also notable that Chancellor Scholz paid a visit to the Tongji University in Shanghai. Tongji University is a hub for German-Chinese cooperation, cooperation in sciences and Chancellor Scholz talked to students. And I think President Xi also mentions people-to-people exchanges and students exchanges are very important to revive the Chinese-German relations.

CGTN: The presence of a large business delegation accompanying Chancellor Scholz underscores the economic dimension of the visit. In your opinion, what are the key economic opportunities and challenges for German companies in China?

Berthold Kuhn: China remains a huge market for Germany's quality products including vehicles, machinery, but also household items. German cars have a very good reputation in China and the sales figures are still good. One in three BMWs and every fourth Mercedes is sold in China, and VW (Volkswagen) is just investing 2.5 billion euros in Anhui Province.

Of course, the electric vehicle market has become very competitive, with many innovative Chinese brands competing for customers with foreign brands, including upper market models from Germany. Fair competition is a key word and fair access to the Chinese markets are key issues.

CGTN: Climate change and sustainability have emerged as areas of potential cooperation between Germany and China. Do you foresee any significant agreements or initiatives being announced in these areas?

Berthold Kuhn: Indeed, Germany's China strategy pays a lot of attention to cooperation with China in the field of climate action. And really, climate cooperation stands out in Germany's China strategy. [German] Economics and Climate Minister [Robert] Habeck already signed a memorandum of understanding in June 2023, with China, and he will visit China again this year.

German International Cooperation (GIZ) is implementing a series of China-Germany climate dialogue and cooperation project. And Germany and China, they have a climate action and transformation dialogue. And Germany has an International Climate Initiative, it's called IKI, and it supports projects across the globe and China is a key partner of Europe in this initiative. It's an outstanding field of cooperation for Germany and China.

CGTN: In the same context, how do you see the recent U.S. warning about China's overcapacity in the renewable energy products, such as solar panels and electric vehicles, and are the German industries taking the U.S. warning seriously?

Berthold Kuhn: As you know, China is the biggest investor in renewable energy and China is definitely keen on exporting solar panels and products for wind energy. And the Chinese products are highly competitive in the global market. While the German solar panel industry has almost disappeared, due to fierce competition. There's only a single company, Meyer Burger, left, which produces solar panels in Germany. So, like any other country, Germany, of course, is concerned about it.

But it's also unrealistic to replace Chinese solar panels with solar panels produced in Germany or in Europe. And I also believe that bringing down the prices is essential to make energy shift happening in Europe and elsewhere.

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at opinions@cgtn.com. Follow @thouse_opinions on Twitter to discover the latest commentaries in the CGTN Opinion Section.)

Search Trends