Germany’s China Seaport Deal Alarms the West

Despite strong opposition from within the German government, Germany will hand the Chinese government-owned shipping giant cosco a 24.99 percent stake in Germany’s largest port (and Europe’s third-largest): Hamburg. While Germany claims to be distancing itself from China economically, the opposite is true.

A dangerous share: Last year, China hoped to get a 35 percent share in the port, giving it more influence in the decision-making process. While the 24.99 percent doesn’t allow that, it still gives China inroads into Western infrastructure and an open door for more control later on. Already close to one third of all containers that pass through the port are either coming from or headed to China.

But there are other concerns. Retired United States Gen. Ben Hodges told Reuters in November that this offers a security risk when it comes to providing military aid to Eastern Europe, for example.

Bremerhaven and Hamburg are actually the most important seaports on which the alliance depends, for the military equipment, not just commercial cargo. [Berlin’s decision caused] a lot of anxiety … because once they’re there, they’re inside the ecosystem of the harbor … and so knowing that the Chinese may be able to influence or disrupt activities at critical transportation infrastructure, that’s a problem.
—Ben Hodges

Defying opposition: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats ignored the opposition of their coalition partners and concerns from the European Union and the U.S. The deal is reminiscent of Germany’s Nord Stream pipeline with Russia that faced similar opposition and proved disastrous. Greens party lawmaker Felix Banaszak told Handelsblatt that this is a promotion of “a foreign economic policy that has learned nothing from the fatal mistakes in dealing with Russia.”

It is a decision against the assessment of the intelligence services and relevant ministries, against Europe’s China strategy and against allies who cite China’s increasingly aggressive behavior as the greatest threat.
—Roderich Kiesewetter, member of the German Bundestag

Furthermore, one of Hamburg’s terminals should have been considered “critical infrastructure,” and therefore, the deal should have been scrutinized more closely. The opposition, apparently, failed to recognize this in time. Christian Democrat foreign policy lawmaker Norbert Röttgen told Politico:

That’s is an unbelievable incompetence in the handling of this case. A lot suggests that several ministries involved have made clear mistakes.

[The cosco deal] was an illegal administrative act because it was based on an incorrect classification of the port terminal. And [Vice President Robert Habeck] is letting himself be taken for a ride if he accepts that some kind of quorum is required to annul an unlawful administrative act.

China and Germany stand united: The Bible reveals that we ought to watch Germany and China’s alliance closely. Isaiah 23 reveals that the two will form a close trade alliance to the detriment of the U.S. Our article “Embracing China” explains what we are seeing play out in front of our eyes.