Olaf Scholz backs China, ignores government warnings in Hamburg port deal, report says

When it comes to the future of Hamburg’s port, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is accused of siding with China over his own government.

An investigation by German regional public broadcasters reported Wednesday that Scholz’s chancellery is pushing to approve efforts by Chinese state-owned shipping giant Cosco to buy a foothold in a container port in Hamburg, ignoring warnings from six federal ministries, including the Greens’ Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck, amid fears of risky economic over-dependence on Beijing.

Just as Germany is finally grasping the consequences of energy dependency on Russia, more attention is now also shifting to the depths of its interlocked trade relationship with China that gives Beijing massive leverage over Berlin.

Under the terms of the Cosco deal, first agreed in September 2021 and subject to regulatory approval, the company would secure a minority 35 percent stake in the container terminal at Tollerort, one of three such sites inside the sprawling Hamburg complex.

The acquisition is part of a broader strategic gambit by Beijing to gain control over infrastructure critical to its globe-spanning Belt and Road trade initiative, a network of transport connections intended to link China’s factories with rich Western markets.