After months of comings and goings, the Government of Germany authorized this Wednesday the minority stake from the Chinese company COSCO at the container terminal of the port of hamburg, he largest in the country and one of the largest in Europe.
Thanks to this agreement, COSCO Shipping will take over 24.9% of the Tollerort terminal, from the logistics company HHLA, coincidentally in a place where close to 30% of the merchandise handled comes from China or goes to that country. .
This percentage does not give the company any “effective participation” regarding strategic or management decisions at Tollerort, such as positions on the board of directors or on the board of directors. Nor does it grant him the right to veto.
Initially, the Asian company aspired to acquire a larger stake, from 35%something that -although endorsed by Chancellor Olaf Scholz– turned on alerts German officials who feared this attempted Chinese advance into a sensitive area.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Germany has proposed to reduce its dependence on Beijing, something that was later reinforced by warnings of human rights abuses, its ties with Russia in the context of the war in Ukraine and even the escalation of tensions around Taiwan.
These episodes led German officials to be more skeptical of key foreign alliances, which could be misappropriated in the event of such a conflict with the West, and even generated Frictions within the Executive and with allies such as the United States, France and the Netherlands.
Six German ministries, hand in hand with two minor partners in Scholz’s government coalition – the Greens and the Free Democrats (FDP) – led the demands for a limit to the agreement that protects critical infrastructure from foreign hands. This agreement is “a flagrant mistake and should be stopped,” said Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, a deputy for the FDP.
The investment “disproportionately expands China’s strategic influence on German and European transport infrastructure as well as Germany’s dependence on China”read a protest note written by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs months ago, in which they also warned of the “considerable risks that arise when elements of the European transport infrastructure are influenced and controlled by China, while China itself does not allow Germany to participate in Chinese ports.
Meanwhile, a survey published by the media spiegel in October 2022 -during the height of the negotiations-, he exposed that the majority of Germans were against the agreement. Precisely, 81% of those surveyed were dissatisfied with the entry of Beijing into their territory.
However, the Xi Jinping regime ignored the criticism and was distant from it. Thus, the spokesman for the Beijing Foreign Ministry, Wang Wenbin, responded by expressing his wish that “the relevant parties see pragmatic cooperation (among nations) rationally and stop the gratuitous hype” that was being generated on the subject. .
He added, in turn, that the landing of COSCO in Hamburg ensures the employment in the area and strengthens relevance -both national and international- of the port as a logistics location within the European continent.
Despite these benefits that Beijing assures, the truth is that the definition reached on this agreement has shown that, beyond the will of some officials and the external narrative, Germany is far from interweaving deep ties with China and will continue, instead , on his way to achieve independence from the Asian giant.
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