AWhen Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine at the end of February, all shipping companies stopped their deliveries to and from Russia. Except for one: Cosco from China, the country whose President Xi Jinping had recently signed a “borderless partnership” with the neighboring country.
The fact that Cosco has continued to ship oil from Russia to China is shown by movement data from ships available to the London data evaluation company Global Data. If the company is now allowed to take a 24.9 percent stake in a terminal in Hamburg under pressure from the Chancellery, its location in Tollerort is half an hour’s drive from the headquarters of the shipping company Hapag-Lloyd. After the start of the war of aggression, Hamburg shut down its routes to Russia, as did the world’s three largest shipping companies, Mærsk, CMA CGM and MSC. China’s Cosco, on the other hand, has offered “economic support” to Russia amid Western sanctions, Global Data analyst Sathiya Jalapathy wrote in a report in late March.
obedience to the party
It is certain that Cosco acted at the behest of the Chinese government. The only distance between the company, which is based in Hamburg’s twin city of Shanghai in the Pudong district in a glass palace resembling a ship’s bridge, is the government in Beijing.
When it merged the state-owned companies Cosco and China Shipping Group in 2016, the People’s Republic suddenly owned one of the largest shipping companies in the world – according to the taste of state leader Xi Jinping, who is having giants created in all industrial sectors to roll up world markets. With a fleet of 467 ships, Cosco moves containers with a total capacity of 2.88 million TEU (1 TEU is a 20-foot standard container) weekly, making the shipping company number four in the world, according to industry website AXS Marine before Hapag Lloyd. Last year, the Shanghai company doubled its sales compared to 2020 to 46 billion euros. Profit rose to 18 billion euros – ninefold.
Cosco has an 11 percent market share in the global business with container transport on the high seas. Industry leader MSC from Geneva is only 6 points away. Beijing makes no secret of the fact that Cosco is one of its most valuable companies. When state leader Xi Jinping visited the Chinese tropical island of Hainan in April, he only commented on the dramatic lockdown in Shanghai that had been going on for a month in a subordinate clause. Xi paid more attention to the visit to the Cosco Yangpu port terminal, from which the shipping company ships containers to the South China Sea.
China is the country that is “best connected to international shipping” in the world, Xi boasts. Before he had his country sealed off after the outbreak of the corona virus, the President liked to visit Cosco’s port terminals, which can be found on all the world’s seas, when traveling abroad. In November 2019, Xi walked alongside Greece’s prime minister to long applause and waving of Chinese flags from workers and ship crews along the quays at the port of Piraeus, which Cosco had bought. An analyst from a state-owned Beijing think tank commented on China’s state television that there have recently been reservations in Brussels and Berlin about Chinese investments, which the EU intends to take a closer look at from now on. It is a stroke of luck that the Greek government itself wanted to sell the entire port of Piraeus to Beijing. Concerns that Greece’s actions could split the EU are justified – however, the Europeans were already at odds before Cosco moored in Piraeus.