China

China and Germany condemn Russian threat to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine


Xi Jinping and Olaf Scholz have condemned Russia’s threat to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, with both leaders expressing their desire for the conflict to end.

The Chinese president stressed the need for greater cooperation between China and Germany in what he referred to as “times of change and turmoil”, and said both leaders “jointly oppose the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons,” although he stopped short of criticising Russia or calling for the withdrawal of Russian troops.

The German chancellor said Russia was in danger of “crossing a line” in the international community if it used atomic weapons, in what was the first meeting with his Chinese counterpart.

Scholz’s inaugural one-day visit on Friday was the first by a leader of a G7 nation to China in three years, and was viewed as testing the waters of relations between Beijing and the west after years of mounting tensions, analysts say.

Observers said Scholz’s visit was being viewed in China as a welcome development as the country’s leadership looks to consolidate its relations with the outside world after years of isolation during the pandemic.

For his part, Scholz was looking to achieve greater market access at a time when the German economy is struggling with inflation and an imminent recession, largely fuelled by the energy crisis.

Scholz defended his decision to travel to China with a group of industrial representatives, which has been viewed with controversy at home, telling journalists: “It is good and right that I am in Beijing today.” He said in time of crisis, such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, bilateral meetings were all the more important.

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In a meeting with China’s outgoing premier, Li Keqiang, Scholz said he had urged Xi to use China’s influence as a permanent member of the UN security council on Russia to bring an end to the invasion of Ukraine. “I told president Xi that it is important for China to exercise its influence on Russia,” he said.

During their meeting, which was held in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Xi said that as large nations with influence, China and Germany should work together all the more during “times of change and turmoil” for the sake of world peace, according to the state broadcaster CCTV.

“As long as the principles of mutual respect, seeking common ground while reserving differences, exchanges and mutual learning, and win-win cooperation are upheld, the general direction of bilateral relations will not be deviated, and the pace of progress will be stable,” Xi was quoted as saying by CCTV.

“At present, the international situation is complex and changeable. As influential powers, China and Germany should work together in times of change and chaos to make more contributions to world peace and development.”

Over lunch Scholz told Xi it was important both leaders were meeting in person during tense times, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine creating problems for the rules-based global order, according to a Reuters reporter accompanying Scholz’s delegation.

At a news conference after his meeting with Li, Scholz said he had raised the issue of Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory over which it will not exclude using weapons in order to bring it under its control. “Like the US and other countries, we are pursuing a one-China policy,” he said. “But I have made equally clear that any change in Taiwan’s status quo must be peaceful or by mutual consent.”

The two leaders also discussed Europe-China relations, the climate crisis and global hunger, as well as how to develop China-Germany economic ties, which Scholz said had “become more difficult for German companies recently” because of China sealing off access to many of its market sectors. Li nominally has responsibility over China’s economy.

According to German media who accompanied him, Scholz indirectly admonished China over its failures to protect minorities in China. He told Xi that human rights were universal, especially the rights of minorities and pledged to “want to remain in discussion” with China about the situation in the province of Xinjiang, which is allegedly home to hundreds of interment camps in which more than 1 million Uyghurs are believed to be held.

China’s strict zero-Covid policy and growing tensions with the west have made it unfeasible for leaders of major western powers to visit China. Xi himself has only just resumed foreign trips.

Scholz’s visit is probably a welcome development for China’s leadership, which will be looking to shore up relations with the outside world after the conclusion of the 20th party congress, where Xi consolidated his status as the core of the ruling Communist party.

In the run-up to the visit, there had been criticism from within the EU and the German government coalition, mainly from the Green party and the Liberals.

With Reuters and Associated Press



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