© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz meets Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, China November 4, 2022. Kay Nietfeld/Pool via REUTERS
BERLIN/FRANKFURT (Reuters) – German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who was heavily criticised for a trip to Beijing this week, said on Saturday his and President Xi Jinping’s joint statement opposing the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine had been reason enough to travel there.
Scholz’s comments come a day after his visit to the world’s second-biggest economy alongside key German corporate CEOs, the first by a G7 nation since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Because the Chinese government, the President and I were able to declare that no nuclear weapons should be used in this war, that alone made the whole trip worthwhile,” Scholz said during an event of his Social Democratic party.
Xi, who secured a third leadership term two weeks ago, agreed that both leaders “jointly oppose the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons” over Ukraine, but refrained from criticising Russia or calling on Moscow to withdraw its troops.
Scholz, who has been criticised for seeming to continue a strategy that overly exposes Germany’s economy to the Chinese market, said diversifying was key to limit possible repercussions should the relationship sour.
“We have a clear plan, and we are following it through. And that means diversifying for all the countries we trade with, especially, of course, a country that is so big and has such a large share of the world economy,” Scholz said.