BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said during a visit to Singapore on Monday that his country wants to strengthen its economic ties with the Asia-Pacific region, emphasizing that it is “far more than just China.”
Scholz was in Singapore on the second leg of an Asian trip that started in Vietnam and also will take him to the summit in Bali, Indonesia, of the Group of 20 global powers. The journey follows a visit to Beijing earlier this month and comes as Germany grapples with its future trade and political relationship with China.
“Of course China remains an important business and trade partner,” Scholz said in a speech to the Asia-Pacific Conference of German Business. But, he said, “the Asia-Pacific region encompasses far more than just China.”
“My message is that Germany is very interested in strengthening its economic connections with your region,” he said.
Chinese investments in Germany have been in focus in recent weeks as officials seek to balance strong business relations with a desire to avoid repeating mistakes made with Russia, which once supplied more than half of Germany’s natural gas and now supplies none.
Scholz is encouraging German companies to diversify but is not discouraging business with China.
He said Monday that Germany’s political and economic position must reflect the fact that today’s China is very different from the China of five or 10 years ago, and that Germany’s political and economic position must reflect that. A new national security strategy will emphasize “reducing risky one-sided dependencies regarding certain raw materials or critical technology,” he added.
But Scholz said that “diversification does not mean uncoupling.”