Xi Jinping welcomed German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to Beijing Friday, with both sides seeking to deepen economic cooperation on a trip that has prompted criticism over Berlin’s growing reliance on an increasingly authoritarian China.
Scholz is the first G7 leader to visit China since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen the world’s number two economy close its borders and Xi largely eschew in-person diplomacy.
The German leader’s trip has sparked controversy at home, coming so soon after Xi strengthened his hold on power and as tensions run high between the West and Beijing on issues ranging from Taiwan to alleged human rights abuses.
Received by a smiling Xi at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People shortly after arriving, Scholz said he hoped to “further develop” economic cooperation — while alluding to areas of disagreement.
“It is good that we are able to have an exchange here about all questions, including those questions where we have different perspectives — that’s what an exchange is for,” Scholz said.