Chancellor Olaf Scholz is not foolish enough to argue that he is continuing the “Wandel durch Handel” economic policy Germany tried with Russia, but this time with Chinese characteristics. The “change through trade” concept completely failed to change Russia, nor prevent it from invading Ukraine. But Scholz’s trip to Beijing is not being sold on the naivety that you can change the politics of the world’s most powerful dictatorship. Instead, it shows he intends to cement Germany’s position as one of China’s key economic partners while hoping this gives him a voice loud enough to be a restraining factor when it comes to Chinese foreign policy – in particular on Taiwan.
The well-meaning drive to devolve party decision-making locally has not resulted in the selection of more impressive candidates.