German gov’t signals green light on Chinese bid for Port Hamburg: Report


The German government agreed on a compromise in the dispute over China’s investment bid for a container terminal in the Port of Hamburg, Focus news magazine reported Wednesday.

China’s state-owned company Cosco can only acquire a share of less than 25% in the Tollerort container terminal, and any further acquisition above this threshold is prohibited.

Cosco originally wanted to acquire a 35% stake.

Also, special rights were prohibited, according to the Economy Ministry. This prevents a strategic stake in the terminal and reduces the acquisition to a purely financial stake. The reason for the partial ban is that there is a risk to public order and safety. The threshold of 25% cannot be exceeded in the future either without a new investment assessment procedure.

It was also said Cosco would be prohibited, among other things, from being granted contractual veto rights in strategic business or personnel decisions.

The compromise is controversial within the center-left government coalition amid the recent experiences with Russia as well as Germany’s dependence on Russian gas supplies.

A political dispute broke out over the question of whether Chinese participation should be allowed as Economy Minister Robert Habeck warned of new dependencies.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who will be visiting China on Nov. 3-5, has reportedly backed a deal that would see the Chinese shipping company Cosco acquire a stake in the Port of Hamburg, while six ministries and at least two German intelligence agencies had strongly opposed a possible agreement.

In other related news, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned against becoming too dependent on China.

“For the future, it means we have to learn lessons. And learning the lesson means that we have to reduce one-sided dependencies wherever possible, this also applies to China in particular,” Steinmeier told the ARD public broadcasting network.

“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,” he added.

Steinmeier’s remarks come in the wake of German government plans for a strategic review of its ties with China.



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