Germany’s Scholz urges closer EU ties with Southeast Asia – TBEN – 14/11/2022

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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told business leaders in Singapore on Monday that Europe’s largest economy wants to strengthen its cooperation with its Southeast Asian partners.

“Germany is keen to strengthen its economic ties with your region!” That’s what Scholz said on day two of his four-day tour of the region. His next stop is Indonesia for the G20 world leaders’ summit.

Shifting geopolitical priorities

The chancellor also pointed to the changing geopolitical situation regarding both the Russian invasion of Ukraine and an increasingly dominant China.

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“Deepening cooperation is crucial, as we all feel that the geopolitical ground is shifting beneath our feet,” he said.

He assured other countries in the region that Germany’s support for Ukraine against Russian aggression would extend to other countries that could face similar threats.

“No country is another’s ‘backyard’,” he said at the conference. “The Asia-Pacific region is much more than China.”

He did emphasize, however, that the diversification of Germany’s economic ties did not mean “decoupling”, a warning against what he called “protectionism in disguise”.

What Olaf Scholz said about China

Germany hopes to strengthen its economic ties to the region’s fast-growing economies while providing an alternative to Chinese investment.

Earlier this month, Scholz also became the first G7 leader to visit China since the outbreak of the pandemic.

China remains an important trading partner for Germany, despite growing concerns about Beijing’s human rights record.

Scholz told his audience on Monday that he had spoken with Chinese leader Xi Jinping about a number of concerns, including the “rules-based international order”, “increasing insecurity in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait” and “China’s approach to human rights and individual freedoms.”

Germany also wants to lead the way in promoting green economies, telling business leaders in Singapore that free trade would hinder innovation, which he said was “the key to all these global challenges”.

ab/rt (dpa, Reuters)