China’s President Xi Jinping on Wednesday (Dec 8) congratulated Olaf Scholz, saying Beijing was willing to work with Germany’s new chancellor to “promote bilateral ties to a new level”, state media reported.
“China is willing to consolidate and deepen political mutual trust, expand exchanges and cooperation in various fields with Germany,” Xi told Scholz, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
Scholz was sworn in as Germany’s next chancellor on Wednesday after 16 years with Angela Merkel at the helm, as a new centre-left-led coalition took the wheel of Europe’s top economy.
He won 395 of the 707 votes cast in the Bundestag lower house, and has pledged broad “continuity” with the popular Merkel while making Germany greener and fairer.
Xi on Wednesday told Scholz in a congratulatory message that the two countries had long sought “common ground while shelving differences” and demonstrated “their sense of responsibility as major countries”, according to Xinhua.
Xi’s swift congratulatory message for Scholz stands in stark contrast with Beijing’s weeks-long silence before congratulating US President Joe Biden after he won the presidential election last November.
China is Germany’s largest trading partner, with €213.2 billion worth of goods traded between the two countries last year, according to German government statistics.
Predecessor Merkel has been accused of lacking bite on human rights issues in China, including Beijing’s mass incarceration of Uyghurs in the far western region of Xinjiang.
Critics said she was hamstrung by huge economic interests in China.
The incoming government has pledged a tougher stance on authoritarian states such as Russia and China.