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 on Thursday. "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".
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)".
Konstantin von Notz, deputy parliamentary group leader of the Greens, says something similar: "I think it's highly problematic and wrong if parts of our critical structure, the Hamburger Hafen, are now to be sold to a digital dictatorship like China. We should at least learn something from the gas dependency disaster." , he writes on Twitter.
When Olaf Scholz is expected to make his first visit as chancellor to Beijing on November 4, the war in Ukraine will also play an important role. But also China's brash foreign policy, which is increasingly encountering opposition with its propagated "fighting spirit". The first meeting between Foreign Minister Angela Baerbock and her Chinese colleague Wang Yi in September at the UN General Assembly in New York "didn't go well", according to informed circles, pointing out the differences.
The Federal Foreign Office is now working on a new China strategy. After the experiences with Russia, Baerbock emphasizes that Germany should no longer make itself dependent on any country "that does not share our values". Such mistakes should not be made twice. Economic dependency makes Germany "politically blackmailable," she told the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" about dealing with China. "It's not about complete decoupling, which is not possible with one of the largest countries. But opening up alternative markets in Asia, diversification and risk management."
German intelligence services are also warning of China. The President of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Thomas Haldenwang, warned on Monday before the Parliamentary Control Committee that in the long term, the far more serious threat to German security and interests emanated from China: "Russia is the storm, China is climate change." Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin countered in Beijing: "Stop exaggerating the so-called espionage threat from China and stop spreading rumors that blacken China."
So not an easy journey for Scholz. He will be the first foreign leader to meet head of state and party leader Xi Jinping at the party congress after his expected re-election. The Chancellor will also be the first head of government of a G7 member to visit China since the outbreak of the corona pandemic and the start of the war in Ukraine. Scholz will have to find out where Xi Jinping really stands.
Other sources: "Tagesschau.de", Ricarda Lang on Twitter, Konstantin von Notz on Twitter.