"The German government has become divided over a deal, agreed last month, which
saw Chinese conglomerate Cosco invest in the Port of Hamburg. The deal had been
in the works since September 2021 and was championed by the chancellor (and
Hamburg’s former mayor), Olaf Scholz.
Scholz’s coalition partners have been vocal in criticising the deal. Chief
among them is Robert Habeck, Greens member and Scholz’s economics minister, who
expressed his fear that Germany was becoming dependent on Chinese business.
Fellow Green and Scholz’s foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, has also
publicly briefed against Scholz and called for an entirely new China policy.
Even worse for Scholz is that his government’s concerns are shared by German
business. One of the sector’s biggest lobbies has expressed anger over
Germany’s economic relationship with China. In an attempt to ward off this
anger, Scholz has been forced to publicly insist that Germany will not become
reliant on Chinese business.
The prospect of dependency on an authoritarian power is a sensitive topic for
the whole of Europe, not just Scholz’s government. Ever since Russia invaded
Ukraine, Europe has been reckoning with the consequences of years of dependence
on Russian primary imports, particularly gas. Russia has cut gas supplies from
pipelines into Europe, stoking its energy crisis.
By leading on Europe’s energy policy, Germany has risked appearing a key
enabler of this dependence. Scholz predecessor Angela Merkel signed a deal as
recently as 2018 to build Nord Stream 2, a gas pipeline connecting Russia to
Europe. This is why when criticising the Port of Hamburg deal, Habeck claimed
the government needs to be “more careful” than in the past."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics