After visiting France and Greece on October 26-27, 2022, Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz went to Beijing on November 4, 2022 and met with President of China Xi Jinping. It is worth noting that the leader of Germany, one of the European Union’s (EU) leading powers, visited China after visiting other important European countries.
In this context, Ankara Center for Crisis and Policy Studies (ANKASAM) presents to your attention the views of Greek Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy Senior Researcher (ELIAMEP) Dr. George Tzogopoulos to evaluate the relations between Germany-China and EU-China.
- It is known that Germany has a desire to increase cooperation with China in different fields, especially in economy. How do you view Scholz’s visit to China following his trips to France and Greece?
Germany is interested in continuing its harmonious economic partnership with China. This is one of the reasons Scholz visited Beijing. In addition, Scholz demanded that China act as a mediator to end the Ukraine War as soon as possible. The Chancellor’s visits to France and Greece had a different agenda. While his visit to France focused on future of EU, his contacts in Greece focused more on military cooperation within the framework of Ukraine War.
- As it is known, while Germany approaches China moderately, France is quite distant in this regard. Do you think Berlin is trying to persuade Paris to improve relations with Beijing?
I believe both actors see China as an important economic partner. Although President of France Emmanuel Macron has not visited China since the outbreak of Covid-19, he maintains his contacts with Xi. However, both countries consider the concerns of the USA and lead the way to protect the interests of EU against China. Therefore, China-Europe relations are much better compared to China-US relations. However, it’s much worse compared to the pre-pandemic and pre-war periods.
- So, how do you assess the future of EU-Chinese relations in the context of the Ukrainian War?
First of all, stability is important. However, it would be a rosy approach to think that deterioration of EU-China relations will be prevented. Because there is a strong expectation that USA, led by Joe Biden, will cooperate with EU in overcoming the challenge presented by China. On the other hand, EU needs China for many reasons. But this is not in line with the Washington administration’s approach.
- Finally, it is known that Greece’s relations with China are better than other EU countries. What role do you believe the Belt-Road Project’s expansion into Greece, as well as China’s economic investments in Greece, will play in the development of EU-China relations?
Relations between China and Greece are generally positive. However, when it comes to economic relations, the relationships are restricted to COSCO’s investments in Piraeus Port. The new EU policy makes it difficult for China to make new investments. As a result, it is impossible to say that Greece will play a unique role in this discussion. Athens’ policy will be entirely in line with the EU’s approach. Of course, Athens does not want a new Cold War to start between Washington and Beijing. However, if a major Sino-US crisis arises, Greece will do what is required of it as a part of the Western Alliance.
Dr. George Tzogopoulos:
Dr. George N. Tzogopoulos specializes in media, international relations and Chinese studies. Tzogopoulos, Senior Fellow at ELIAMEP, is the Director of EU-China Programs. He is also a lecturer at the European Nice Institute (Centre International de formation européenne, CIFE), an International Relations faculty member at Thrace Democritus University and a lecturer at the Begin Sadat Strategic Center.