China’s new premier begins first overseas trip to Germany, France

BERLIN (AP) — Chinese Premier Li Qiang has begun a visit to Germany and France that comes as Europe seeks to balance concerns over economic dependence on China and its stance on Ukraine. and Taiwan with a desire to engage Beijing on issues such as climate change.

Li, on his first trip abroad since taking office, was received by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Monday. Li and a large delegation of Chinese ministers are meeting Chancellor Olaf Scholz and their German counterparts on Tuesday, the seventh such meeting. Senior officials from both sides will also meet with business representatives.

Li, a former Communist Party secretary for Shanghai, took office in March as China’s No. 2 official. It was part of a once-a-decade change of government that installed loyalists of Chinese leader Xi Jinping to impose his vision of tighter political control over the economy and society.

The visit comes as Europe and Germany ponder how best to deal with an increasingly assertive China. Scholz advocated a balanced approach, calling for “de-risking” – seeking to avoid overreliance on Chinese trade and materials by diversifying the country’s partners – but flatly rejecting the idea of ​​”decoupling”.

In Germany’s first national security strategy, presented last week, the government says it views China as “a systemic partner, competitor and rival”.

He says that “the elements of rivalry and competition have increased in recent years; at the same time, China remains a partner without which many of the world’s most pressing challenges cannot be solved.

German officials point to the fight against climate change as a particularly important point of potential cooperation. The official motto of Tuesday’s meeting is “Acting sustainably together”.

The German government is still developing a separate detailed strategy on China, and it’s unclear when that will be ready.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wengbin said last week that China is looking forward to “sending positive signals to the world to strengthen dialogue and cooperation” and join hands in overcoming challenges. “to promote the prosperity and development of the world economy”. He said Li’s choice of Germany as the first stop “fully reflects the great importance China attaches to Sino-German relations.”

Li continues his visit to Germany, which has the largest economy in the EU, with a stopover in France, the second largest. While there, Li plans to attend a “Summit for a New Global Financing Pact” being held at the initiative of French President Emmanuel Macron.

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