The visit of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to China on November 4 is receiving much attention. Many warnings have been sent to Scholz, noting the risks of staying too close to China’s regime.
Before Scholz’s visit to Beijing, the German government had agreed to let China’s COSCO Shipping Ports buy a stake in Hamburg Container Terminal, Germany’s largest port.
Anna Lührmann, Minister of State for Europe, said Beijing has made it clear that it is ready to take economic measures to achieve its political goals. Therefore, allowing the sale of shares in the Hamburg Container Terminal will facilitate China’s use of critical infrastructure in Germany and Europe for political purposes.
Secretary of State at the Federal Foreign Office Susanne Baumann wrote a letter to Scholz’s Chief of Staff, Wolfgang Schmidt, saying that the agreement with COSCO increases the strategic influence of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) over Germany and Europe and increases Germany’s dependence on China.
According to Da Ji Yuan, the Ukraine war exposed Germany’s decades of dependence on Russian gas.
Now, many in the German government fear that if war breaks out in the Taiwan Strait, Germany could suffer further damage from its deeper dependence on China. Because China has long been one of Germany’s largest markets for machinery, chemicals, and automobiles.
The head of the German domestic intelligence service, Thomas Haldenwang, summarized the concern at a hearing in the House of Commons last month.
He said that in the long run, China poses a much greater security threat to Germany than Russia. He thinks Russia is just a storm, while China is climate change.
Friedrich Merz, chairman of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, advocates that Germany should seriously consider warnings from intelligence agencies about the dangers of dependence on China.
The Green Party’s foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, told business leaders that Germany could no longer act on business priorities without taking into account the long-term risks and dependencies.
Robert Habeck, Vice Chancellor of Germany, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, has said that it is time to stop being naive in dealings between Germany and Beijing.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that Germany must learn from the war between Russia and Ukraine by reducing its one-sided dependence, especially on China.
Steinmeier’s views are shared by many in the business world, especially the Confederation of German Industry (BDI) and many small and medium-sized companies that are facing increasingly unfair competition in the Chinese market.