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The discussion about the stake in a German port terminal held by the Chinese state-owned company Cosco intensifies almost by the hour. With the Ukraine war and its consequences, the affair becomes a new symbol of Germany’s disastrous dependence on authoritarian countries. Olaf Scholz, of all people, the “Zeitenwende” chancellor, still wants to seal the deal despite massive criticism – if necessary also as a compromise with a smaller share and without veto rights for Cosco.
Today, the Chinese acquisition bid is expected to be discussed by the German government. The Chancellor’s Office can no longer withstand the headwinds from the public and from within the government coalition without suffering a bitter blow to its reputation, writes Finn Mayer-Kukuck in his analysis of the Cosco debacle. “Just as there is no such thing as a little bit pregnant in nature, there is no such thing as a little bit Chinese in the port deal in Hamburg,” explained Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann of the liberal FDP, for example. It will be a difficult birth, that much is clear. The case will cast a long shadow on further cooperation with Chinese partners.
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Port dispute is just the beginning
The planned acquisition of a stake in one of four terminals at the Port of Hamburg by the shipping company Cosco has become a symbol of Chinese investment in Germany. It is the first acquisition of high-profile infrastructure since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: The “Zeitenwende” is gripping the port business. Demands are that Germany should no longer act naively toward authoritarian and potentially aggressive states.
However, it is the Zeitenwende Chancellor Olaf Scholz himself who now undermines this call. He is in favor of a compromise in which Cosco takes a smaller stake that allows little actual influence on the business. The terminal’s IT would also remain independent of the Chinese shareholder. China.Table was the first to report on this compromise on Monday morning.
The German government is expected to discuss the Chinese takeover bid on Wednesday. However, the two smaller partners in the government coalition are united in their objection – and the new compromise has done little to change that. Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann of the liberal FDP party and chairwoman of the Defense Committee rejects the deal entirely. “Just as there is no such thing as a little bit pregnant in nature, there is no such thing as a little bit Chinese in the port deal in Hamburg,” she told the German news agency dpa.