Dhe Federal Cabinet has allowed the Chinese state shipping company Cosco to enter the operator of a container terminal in the Port of Hamburg to a limited extent. According to government circles, the cabinet approved a so-called partial ban on Wednesday. Instead of taking a 35 percent stake in the Tollerort container terminal of the Hamburg port logistics group HHLA, the federal government now only approves a 24.9 percent stake for the Chinese.
The partial ban is intended to prevent strategic participation and reduce Chinese involvement to purely financial participation, it said. Among other things, the acquiring company should be prohibited from being contractually granted veto rights in strategic business or personnel decisions. She should also not be allowed to appoint any members of the management board. It is not yet clear whether Cosco will agree to the compromise.
The compromise was controversial in the traffic light coalition. Under the impression of recent experiences with Russia and the dependence on its gas supplies, a political dispute broke out over the question of whether Chinese participation should be allowed. Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens) warned of new dependencies and wanted to completely ban Chinese entry. Other ministries wanted this too.
However, the Chancellery urged that the entry be made. If the cabinet had not made a decision this week, the sale would have been automatically approved as agreed by Cosco and HHLA, it said.
Continued criticism of Chinese participation
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), who is traveling to China at the beginning of November, pointed out that the port was not being sold. The land itself is 100 percent owned by the Hanseatic City of Hamburg.
The Cosco Group also operates the world’s fourth largest container shipping company. Their ships have been calling at the Tollerort terminal for more than 40 years. In return for the stake, Cosco wants to make Container Terminal Tollerort (CTT) a preferred transhipment point in Europe. Shipping company shares in terminals are common in global container logistics. Cosco itself already holds shares in eight terminals in Europe alone.
The leader of the Young Liberals in the FDP, Franziska Brandmann, called on the federal government and her own party to stop Cosco’s planned participation in the terminal in the port of Hamburg. Anything else is also a pity for the FDP. “It has become painfully clear that the grand coalition has acted too naively in dealing with Russia and has thus led Germany to become dependent on energy policy,” Brandmann told the “Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland”. This “security policy naivety” must come to an end with the traffic light government.
Jürgen Trittin, foreign policy spokesman for the Greens in the Bundestag, called the solution “damage limitation” in the newspapers of the Bayern media group, since “the conversion of a strategic participation into a financial one” is now planned. “But you have to realize that there are already Chinese holdings in the Port of Hamburg’s direct competitors, such as in Rotterdam and Antwerp. This makes you a little more open to economic blackmail,” said Trittin. He called for “European regulation for such cases, otherwise each member country does its own thing – and is then played off against each other from Beijing”.
Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier did not comment directly on the port dispute; however, he warned against becoming too dependent on China. “For the future it means we have to learn lessons and learning the lesson means we have to reduce one-sided dependencies wherever possible, that also applies to China in particular,” said Steinmeier on Tuesday evening during his visit to the ARD TV station in Ukraine. “Daily Topics”. “It is very important that we talk much more intensively with China’s neighbors, who certainly cannot replace our trade relations, economic relations with China. But Southeast Asia is an area of 700 million people where I think we can rebalance the relationship with East Asia.”