ARGUMENT : An expert’s point of view on a current event.
The German chancellor’s go-it-alone approach has alienated domestic, EU, and international partners.
“Political leaders should have the serenity to accept the things they cannot change, the courage to change the things they can change, and the wisdom to distinguish between the two.”
This is how Chinese President Xi Jinping set the terms of his meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Beijing earlier this month, invoking the late West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, who was apparently a fan of American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr’s “Serenity Prayer.”
The quote serves a precise purpose. For Xi, Scholz’s visit to China—the first by a G-7 leader after Xi’s mandate was renewed at the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in October—presented an opportunity to reaffirm Beijing’s core interests. Unfortunately for Scholz, the list of things that Xi expects to be accepted with serenity includes everything from China’s troubling treatment of ethnic minorities to its militarization of the South China Sea.