Germany confirmed the arrival of Chinese Cosco in the port capital of Hamburg, with participation but revised downwards. Berlin spared the Twenty-Seven worried about this new Chinese acquisition, while preserving trade with Beijing.
The question was debated. It suddenly appeared six years ago when the German nugget Kuka, specializing in industrial robots, was bought by a Chinese group. A few months ago, Angela Merkel blocked the acquisition of another company desired by the Chinese. At the same time, the Chancellor is the best ambassador for trade in China, in his regular trip to Beijing, accompanied by a gathering of businessmen. Under his leadership, the business tripled.
Russia’s war in Ukraine has revived the debate. Europe’s leading power is building its growth on cheap energy: Russian gas. He now realizes how imprudent this choice was. Environmentalists, and especially the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Annalena Baerbock, want the relationship with China to be examined in the light of the current crisis. Both environmentalists and liberals opposed Cosco’s entry into the port capital of Hamburg. Because China can control this strategic infrastructure, which is somewhat like the portal of the German country.
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Cosco is the fourth largest ship owner in the world, above all it is a public company that is already well established in Europe. He swallowed the port of Piraeus in Greece during the debt crisis and acquired stakes in the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp. Meanwhile, no foreign company is authorized to board the capital’s Chinese ports. This constant double standard from Beijing ended up cooling the Europeans.
The German intelligence chief who was heard in the Bundestag about this controversial participation in Cosco warned of the risks associated with his arrival: his presence will facilitateforfor to sabotage if there is a conflict between the two countries. And Thomas Haldenwang continues with an analysis of “time” in international relations: “Russia is a storm, but China is a climate change”.
Can Germany do without China?
China is its second customer. One million German jobs depend on exports to this country, or 3% of the total workforce. It would be too much if China decides on a sudden embargo on German products, but Berlin can anticipate and diversify its outlets. China is also a leading supplier for low-end manufactured goods such as toys, furniture, clothing or shoes. These goods can be imported from other developing countries. So there is no danger in this imported ingredient.
Trust is especially critical for the supply of strategic raw materials
Germany, like the rest of the world, depends on China for rare earths. Small metals essential for wind turbines. Until he found a replacement, he preferred to save this valuable supplier. It is also an important country for the automobile industry. It achieves 30% of its turnover in the Chinese market. And the big German groups continue to bet on this country. They have invested 10 billion euros there since the beginning of the year. A record.
These are the national interests that Olaf Scholz wants to protect by going to Beijing. He is expected next week. So he is the first foreign leader to meet Xi Jinping has since been confirmed as the head of the Chinese Communist Party. This rain upset the Elysée. The difference in approach to China is part of the Franco-German dispute. Emmanuel Macron will be able to discuss this at leisure with the Chancellor he received this Wednesday, October 26 for lunch, at the Élysée.
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