It’s not easy being Olaf Scholz. The German chancellor has been insulted and humiliated left, right and centre; that’s just from his own coalition government partners. He also has the distinction of being mocked by both the Russians and Ukrainians. Probably no other European leaders have managed that feat so far. That may be why he has been partial towards the Chinese, who rolled out the red carpet during his visit to Beijing last month. At least he got some love in the Middle Kingdom. And sure enough, after the trip, he penned a major policy essay in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, the premier publication of the United States’ foreign policy establishment, in which he argues the West can live with and even have a productive relationship with China. Tell that to the Americans. If being thick-skinned is a necessary condition to being a successful politician in a democracy, Scholz has to be a star. Given his nationality, it’s no fun being constantly called a sausage by not only your enemy but your enemy’s enemy. Who says the latter has to be your friend? German chancellor warns West against isolating China Dmitry Medvedev, the former Russian president and current deputy secretary of the Russian government’s Security Council, has compared Scholz to black pudding, baloney – a type of smoked sausage – and liver sausage. He reportedly said: “Evidently the Germans have a shortage of black pudding. Everywhere there’s only baloney. And this is a good reason to add live blood to the liver sausage of the current chancellor.” Apparently many Russians, as well as some Poles and other central Europeans, harbour a good deal of scepticism, even a conspiracy theory or two, about an alleged plot by a far-right extremist group to overthrow Scholz’s government, install a minor royal as national leader and restore the Reich. The mainstream news media in the Anglosphere have mostly been praising the massive security operation that has successfully foiled the dastardly plot – reportedly 3,000 officers against 25 suspects. The Financial Times commented that the “rarity of the German coup plot is a triumph of democracy”. Some Europeans and not just Russians, though, think Scholz and his ministers have been too keen playing up the alleged coup for maximum media attention. Medvedev likely has a conspiracy theory worthy of a spy novel like The Day of the Jackal, which I won’t repeat here. I just thought his insult was amusing and worth sharing. Germany says risk of Russia using nuclear arms in Ukraine declined for now It actually took after former Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, who went out of his way to insult his German host on a regular basis, despite the massive financial and military aid handed to his country, and what may be called the sacrifice of ordinary Germans – for the high energy bills they have to pay, besides inflation – for their country’s support of Ukraine. Angry that Scholz didn’t visit Kyiv like so many other Western leaders who had made the pilgrimage, he called the chancellor a “sulky liver sausage”. China’s reputed wolf warriors have been much more courteous. In return, they got a nice little – actually rather long – essay from Scholz. Titled “The Global Zeitenwende” (or turning point), the piece covers many topics, especially Russia. But commenting on China, he wrote: “Many assume we are on the brink of an era of bipolarity in the international order. They see the dawn of a new cold war approaching, one that will pit the United States against China. I do not subscribe to this view.” Instead, he argues the world is entering a new phase of globalisation in which countries big and small have to make adjustments to new realities. “China’s rise does not warrant isolating Beijing or curbing cooperation,” he wrote. “But neither does China’s growing power justify claims for hegemony in Asia and beyond. No country is the backyard of any other – and that applies to Europe as much as it does to Asia and every other region.” Wise words. It’s good to have a thick skin.