On November 4, 2022, Chancellor Scholz paid an eleven-hour visit to Beijing with a group of top German business executives. He was the first Western leader visit to China since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, and the first major political leader to meet Xi Jinping after the Chinese Communist Party Congress.[i] At the end of March 2023, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón visited China. He was followed by President Macron and the President of the European Commission von der Leyen last week.
On June 14, 2021, Mr. Biden arrived in Brussels on his first trip to Europe as President. The Brussels Summit Communiqué issued by the NATO Heads of State and Government on that day broke new ground by mentioning China in a NATO public statement for the first time. It said, “China’s stated ambitions and assertive behavior present systemic challenges to the rules-based international order and areas relevant to Alliance security.”
In Beijing, President Xi Jinping presented to the Chinese Party Congress the report of the Central Committee in a two-hour-long speech.[i] Having secured a third five-year term as president, he is now regarded as China’s strongest leader since Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.
On March 18, Presidents Biden and Xi Jinping held a two-hour-long video conference. To put their meeting in perspective, one does not have to go back all the way to China’s “century of humiliation”, but a brief chronological look at the recent past, particularly the last year could be useful.
The Russia-West standoff over Ukraine continues. The US and its European allies are warning of a serious risk of a Russian offensive against Ukraine. Moscow is claiming that the US is trying to pull Russia into an armed conflict over Ukraine that Russia does not want. The US is sending troops to Germany, Poland, and Romania. The West is waiting for the Russian response to its written proposals which Moscow says focus only on secondary issues. Lines of argument and underlying rationale are getting increasingly blurred and confusing.