Logistics: Report: Government argues about China entry at port

According to media information, there is a dispute between the Federal Chancellery and several ministries over the approval of an already agreed Chinese entry into a container terminal in the port of Hamburg.

Logistics: Report: Government argues about China entry at port

According to media information, there is a dispute between the Federal Chancellery and several ministries over the approval of an already agreed Chinese entry into a container terminal in the port of Hamburg.

"According to information from NDR and WDR, all six ministries involved in the investment review have rejected the deal," the broadcasters reported. "According to the research, however, the Chancellery is pushing for the entry to take place."

The background to this is an agreement concluded in September 2021 between the Hamburg port logistics company HHLA and the Chinese terminal operator Cosco on a 35 percent stake for the Chinese in the Hamburg HHLA terminal in Tollerort (CTT). A spokeswoman for the Federal Ministry of Economics did not want to comment on the report. An HHLA spokesman also told the dpa about the report: "No comment".

"Potential for blackmail" through the planned participation

According to the information from NDR and WDR, the leading Ministry of Economic Affairs has already registered the issue for final rejection in the Federal Cabinet because it is a matter of critical infrastructure. Accordingly, there is concern that the planned participation could create a "potential for blackmail".

China is by far the most important trading partner in Europe's third largest seaport. The Cosco Group, which also operates one of the world's largest container shipping companies, has had its ships moored at the CTT for decades. CTT with four berths and 14 container gantries is one of three container terminals operated by HHLA in the Port of Hamburg. In return, Cosco wants to concentrate its cargo flows in the Hanseatic city, CTT is to become a preferred transshipment point in Europe.

According to the report, time is of the essence: "If the federal cabinet does not make a decision and no extension of the deadline is agreed, the deal would automatically come about according to the law," write NDR and WDR. "According to the current status, that would be the case at the end of October - shortly before a planned visit to China by Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD)".

Criticism from the traffic light coalition and opposition

Sharp criticism of the planned Chinese entry comes from politicians in the traffic light coalition. "The Chinese Communist Party must not have access to our country's critical infrastructure. That would be a big mistake and also a risk," Djir-Sarai told the German Press Agency in Berlin.

He warned against being naïve towards the Chinese rulers. Djir-Sarai: "The tough power interests they are pursuing are not in our interest. The fact remains: China is an important trading partner, but also a systemic rival. We should act accordingly."

The project has also met with criticism from the Greens. "Our critical infrastructure must not become the plaything of geopolitical interests of others. Europe is a strong trading and economic area and our ports are also among the facilities that are particularly worthy of protection," said Marcel Emmerich, chairman of the Bundestag's Interior Committee, according to a statement. "Just as Sigmar Gabriel sold gas storage facilities to Russia, Olaf Scholz now wants to sell parts of the Port of Hamburg to China. Apparently the SPD has learned nothing."

Union faction vice Jens Spahn has also spoken out against the project. Spahn told the German Press Agency: "One lesson learned from the pandemic and the energy crisis is that we have to become more independent of China." But Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) apparently wants to increase the dependency even further. "That would be a fatal mistake." Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) is right. "German ports do not belong in Chinese hands."

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