During his recent journey to China, Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany attempted to carefully balance promoting business connections with the country’s primary trading partner while also critiquing the surge of Chinese exports to Europe and its backing of Russia.

On Tuesday, Mr. Scholz met with Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, marking the conclusion of a three-day excursion accompanied by a German delegation of officials and business representatives. He also had scheduled discussions with Premier Li Qiang, as both nations handle strained relations due to Russia’s conflict in Ukraine and China’s competition with the United States, which is Germany’s paramount ally.

Throughout his trip, Mr. Scholz championed the interests of German companies grappling with heightened competition in China. He also conveyed the escalating unease within the European Union regarding the influx of Chinese products flooding the region’s market at a loss.

This visit marked Mr. Scholz’s initial trip to China following his government’s adoption last year of a stance regarding the Asian nation as a “partner, competitor, and systemic competitor,” urging Germany to diminish its reliance on Chinese goods.

Germany’s economy contracted last year, exposing vulnerabilities that stem from its dependency on China for economic growth. The surge in energy prices, a consequence of the conflict in Ukraine, facilitated by Beijing’s support for the Kremlin, has led German companies to push for increased access to China, citing unfair competition.

During his journey through Chongqing, Shanghai, and Beijing, the Chancellor visited German companies with substantial investments in China, engaged with trade envoys, and interacted with university students.

Addressing a cohort of German-speaking students in Shanghai, Mr. Scholz emphasized the necessity for fair competition, advocating for a level playing field.

The Chancellor’s trip exemplifies the balancing act Germany faces – preserving economic connections with China alongside managing pressure from the U.S. to align more closely with Washington against Beijing. He also aimed to channel European leaders’ apprehensions on geopolitical and trade matters to China.

In his discussions, Mr. Scholz underscored Germany’s commitment to engaging in business with China while cautioning Beijing against the inundation of Chinese goods into Europe. Simultaneously, he expressed reservations about the European Union’s inquiries into China’s utilization of subsidies for green technology industries, emphasizing the necessity for trade discussions grounded in fairness.

Mr. Scholz articulated to reporters that any trade discussions must stem from a standpoint of robust competitiveness rather than protectionist motives.

China’s focus on expanding its manufacturing in green sectors like electric vehicles and solar panels has sparked trade disagreements with Europe and the U.S., where similar industries have received government support. With 5,000 German companies operating in China, Germany stands to bear more repercussions than many of its European counterparts should Beijing retaliate against the European Union.

Maximilian Butek, the executive director of the German Chamber of Commerce in China, warned, “If the E.U. adopts a hard stance against China, we may face retaliatory measures, which would spell disaster for us.”

He added, “It is extremely crucial for us that the Chinese market remains open.”

During his meetings with Chinese officials, Mr. Scholz was also anticipated to voice concerns about Beijing’s bolstering of Moscow’s wartime economy, particularly its continued sale of goods to Russia with potential military applications.

In an exchange with students in Shanghai, Mr. Scholz indirectly referenced Russia’s actions in Ukraine, asserting that the optimal global functioning involves nations abiding by fundamental shared principles.

“One of these principles is that nations should not fear their neighbors,” Mr. Scholz articulated, refraining from explicitly naming any countries. He iterated, “Borders ought to be respected without resorting to force.”

China is seeking to drive a wedge between Europe and the U.S. by cultivating relationships with leaders such as Mr. Scholz. State media portrayals of his visit underscore the robustness of China’s ties with Europe, accentuating its economic connections with Germany.

Beijing is likely to appreciate the message indicating German businesses’ steadfast commitment to China. China aims to attract foreign investments to revitalize its economy, which has waned due to a slackening housing market. Furthermore, some Western businesses and investors feel unnerved by Mr. Xi’s emphasis on national security, perceiving it as a heightened risk to operate within the country.

From China’s vantage point, Germany represents its best chance to delay or dilute any trade constraints imposed by Europe, according to Noah Barkin, a senior adviser at the Rhodium Group, a research institution specialized in China.

German automakers have made significant investments in China, with a considerable portion of their revenues stemming from there. Concerns loom that heightened tariffs from the European Commission on Chinese exports, coupled with potential retaliatory actions from Beijing, would disproportionately impact German enterprises.

Mr. Barkin highlighted, “Chinese authorities understand the significant investments of German companies and leverage this politically to influence decisions in Berlin.”

Additionally, Mr. Barkin noted that major German corporations like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and BASF maintain substantial investments in China and wield considerable influence in Berlin. Representatives from these corporations, alongside others, accompanied Mr. Scholz on his trip to China.

“Chinese officials have dismissed the European Union’s accusations of unfair trade practices as baseless and reflective of ‘typical protectionism.’ They have implied potential retaliatory measures in response to any actions by the E.U., emphasizing China’s strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to the investigations.

Last week, Wang Wentao, China’s commerce minister, visited Europe to demonstrate Beijing’s solidarity with Chinese companies and counter the claims that China is unloading goods onto the region and jeopardizing global markets.

In an interview with the German publication Handelsblatt, Wu Ken, China’s ambassador to Germany, asserted that the competitiveness of Chinese electric vehicles hinges on innovation rather than subsidies.

The ambassador contended, “Developed nations face challenges chiefly due to the superior efficiency of Chinese companies.”

Reporting from Hong Kong by Zixu Wang.