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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz plans to visit Beijing in early November. It will be the first bilateral meeting in China between a European politician and Xi since the start of the pandemic. Expectations for the visit are correspondingly high, especially since Germany is currently working on a China strategy. From this perspective, the timing of Scholz’s trip is not ideal, writes Amelie Richter. After the party congress, Xi Jinping will be at the height of his power. A visit by the German chancellor seems like an honor here.
“Scholz’s visit ahead of the G20 meeting shows that the world is returning to China,” confirms Joerg Wuttke, head of the EU Chamber of Commerce. The big question now is what issues Scholz will put on the table. Meanwhile, the China strategy of the German government coalition partners will probably take until 2023.
Analysts from the Canadian platform Techinsights surprised the world with the new discovery of a 7-nanometer chip made in China: a breakthrough in semiconductor technology. Previously, the assumption was that the Chinese industry, spearheaded by the state-owned company SMIC, was not yet capable of producing such finely constructed semiconductors, Frank Sieren reports.
Even if the chip seems more like a copy of a Taiwanese product, it shows that the Chinese manufacturer is still technically able, despite sanctions. But the chip sanctions imposed by the Americans are not the only problem right now. On top of that, there is a worldwide slump in demand. SMIC, too, could be affected by canceled orders and declining capacity utilization. Experts even fear that growth at the Chinese chip powerhouse could fall by as much as 50 percent. On a positive note, this means the chip shortage is over for many industries.
Scholz in Beijing – short trip without strategy?
After a Covid break of just over three years, a German government leader will once again travel to China. Social democratic Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s (SPD) stopover in Beijing in early November is expected to be the official starting signal for a resumption of face-to-face diplomacy between the European Union and the People’s Republic – and thus also an opportunity to recalibrate relations.
However, Scholz’s first visit will probably not result in any major changes in Germany’s posture vis-à-vis China. The duration of the trip is too short, and the timing just after the CP Congress is problematic. And the biggest problem: Neither Berlin nor Brussels currently speaks with a unified voice.
At the engineering summit of the German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA) on Tuesday, the Chancellor spoke out clearly against decoupling from the People’s Republic: “Globalization has been a success story that enabled prosperity for many people. We must defend it,” said Scholz. A policy change, as some voices in the coalition partners are urging, sounds different.