German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s visit to China later this week could trigger fierce backlash at home, analysts told Axios.
Why it matters: Scholz’s trip on Friday with a delegation of business leaders will make him the first EU leader to visit the Asian country since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The visit will also come less than two weeks after Chinese President Xi Jinping secured a historic third term in office.
- The trip could send a confusing signal about how Europe’s largest economy plans to deal with Beijing, especially as other EU countries increasingly toughen their stances on China, analysts say.
State of play: Scholz’s predecessor, Angela Merkel, had close economic ties with Beijing. China was Germany’s top trading partner over the last six years, with bilateral trade reaching $245 billion last year.
- But 84% of Germans would like the country to reduce economic ties with China, according to a recent poll by German public service broadcaster ZDF.
- “Germany made a big bet on China,” says Noah Barkin, a managing editor of Rhodium Group’s China practice. “For many years, this was seen as a source of strength. Now it has become a vulnerability.”
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