German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron are advocating for a "rebalancing" of trade between Europe and China amid Berlin's efforts to woo the Beijing government. (Photo by Michele Tantussi/Getty Images)


Germany courts Beijing as Scholz and Macron push for EU-China trade ‘rebalancing’


German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron are advocating for a “rebalancing” of trade between Europe and China amid Berlin’s efforts to woo Beijing.

In a video call on April 12, the two Heads of State reportedly discussed the current situation between China and the European Union, with both men seeming to back protecting the relationship between the two powers.

“The leaders addressed the relationship between the European Union and China and co-ordinated to, in particular, defend a rebalancing of the Euro-Chinese commercial relationship,” a French transcript of the conversation read.

Scholz and Macron added that more effort was needed to “revive European competitiveness”, setting it as a priority for both countries heading into the extraordinary European Council meeting taking place later this week.

Such a revival could be spurred, they argued, by a “deepening of the Capital Markets Union”, an EU scheme that aims to open up avenues of funding for European businesses.

The conversation between the two leaders took place shortly before an official state visit by Scholz to China over the weekend of April 13.

It is one of the latest attempts by the German leader to court the country amid increasing East-West tensions.

He added that Germany needed China’s help in the fight against climate change, arguing that solving the problem would only be possible if the whole world worked together.

“We see that there is economic co-operation that is important to us,” he said. “Today I visited a production facility owned by Bosch, which produces hydrogen drives for vehicles, modern technology from Germany that is used here and is also needed.

“This is a sign of economic co-operation but also a sign that we can only overcome humanity’s great challenges together,” he said.

“Only if everyone in the world works to stop this climate change will it be possible for the world to still be a very liveable place in 20 or 30 years.”

Some are not pleased with Scholz’s approach, accusing the German leader of “kowtowing” to Beijing.

Others want to see the him raise the issue of human rights concerns with Chinese officials during his visit.

NGO Human Rights Watch demanded that Scholz prioritise human welfare over Germany’s “narrow business interests”, saying the Chancellor should pressure the Chinese Government over its treatment of Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang, as well as crackdowns on freedom of expression in Hong Kong.

Such an approach appears unlikely, with China remaining one of Germany’s largest trading partners despite increasingly frosty relations between Beijing and much of the West, including the US.