New Chinese PM Li Qiang lands in Germany in first overseas trip

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China’s No. 2 official Li Qiang landed in Germany on Sunday for his first overseas trip since becoming premier, as the world’s second-largest economy attempts to prevent ties with Europe deteriorating to lows reached with the US.

The Chinese premier will meet German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, on Monday, according to the latter’s schedule. Li will also sit down with Chancellor Olaf Scholz, when he hosts the seventh China-Germany inter-governmental consultation.

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Li will then head to France for talks with President Emmanuel Macron, according to China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He could also have the opportunity to speak to US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen during his time in Europe, as both are scheduled to attend a development finance summit in Paris this week.

Li’s trip to Europe comes at the same time US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is making a rare visit to Beijing to try to reset ties between the world’s largest economies, underscoring the current tensions destabilizing China’s diplomatic relationships with Western democracies.

The Chinese premier is accompanied in Europe by Zheng Shanjie, head of China’s economic planning agency, and Commerce Secretary Wang Wentao. Their absence from China may mean any announcement of expected economic stimulus is postponed until after Li’s scheduled return on Friday.

The trip follows visits to China by Scholz and Macron in the past year, and comes as Beijing tries to repair ties with Europe damaged by Chinese support for Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. China is also trying to attract investment from European firms and encourage the European Union and its member countries to not join the US in restricting technology exports and trade.

The talks also come at a delicate moment for Europe as the bloc struggles to define a coherent approach on China, with Germany and the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, both having described China as a partner, competitor and rival at the same time.

European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen is expected to announce the bloc’s new economic security strategy on Tuesday, including details on how to “de-risk” from China.

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