It is a highly controversial decision with consequences: A Chinese company can invest in a container terminal in the port of Hamburg. Ministries feel duped by the chancellor, economic experts express criticism. A press review of Olaf Scholz’s decision for a Cosco deal.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: “(…) Scholz, who is traveling to Beijing in November, does not want to alienate Emperor Xi Jinping beforehand. German business leaders (…) also warn against “China bashing”. Overreactions should indeed be avoided as much as possible in international and transnational business. But German China policy is more at risk of underreaction – because the dependence on the extensive economic relations with Xi’s empire is already so great. Not only Germany was naive. Many European countries have already allowed the Chinese to take control of operations and infrastructure (which the Europeans are denied in China). Therefore, in the case of Hamburg, Cosco was able to threaten to shift the business to other ports. This is not how Europeans should be played off against each other. (…)”

Freie Wort (Suhl): “In a few days, the Chancellor will travel to Beijing for a state visit. He could then have had a rejection for Cosco in his luggage. Instead, there is now a gift – and benevolent hosts. Scholz is simply continuing the fatal China policy of his predecessor Angela Merkel, under which the “port deal” incidentally got rolling. Merkel has always praised stable economic relations as the measure of all things. Hopefully her successor soon realizes that this focus is a dangerous illusion.”

Münchner Merkur: “The port decision is a catastrophe in many respects: First of all, it increases dependence on China, even if the Chancellor expects short-term trade advantages from the deal. Second, it reinforces the conviction of the leadership in Beijing that their policy of intimidation is working. And thirdly, it isolates Germany in Europe, where nobody understands that the largest country in the EU is throwing itself from one dependency to the next, to the detriment of the entire Union. With his ruthless and self-righteous demeanor, Scholz puts off our friends.

In any case, he cannot sell his second chancellor’s power word, with which he overruns the dumbfounded coalition partners, as a clever German interest-oriented policy; the collateral damage is too great for that. Not only in Germany, but everywhere in Europe, people are beginning to wonder whether, at a fateful moment in world history, this chancellor was really up to the task.”

Nürnberger Nachrichten: “And Olaf Scholz will soon be traveling to this country with the port entrance as a gift? In doing so, he snubs the FDP and the Greens, he is also acting against the advice of economic experts who are pushing for more distance and toughness towards China – especially if the country is to remain a business partner, which it has to do because of its size and importance. Scholz was too quick to accept the rules of a regime that wants to impose the rules on us.

Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung (Heidelberg): Of course, the fact that Chancellor Scholz pushed through the China port deal suits him during his flying visit to Beijing at the beginning of November. But behind the debate about this participation lies the fundamental question of which states a democracy should do business with? Strictly speaking, Qatar and Saudi Arabia should not be substitutes for Russia. From these perspectives, China is a total failure anyway. But at the end of the day, there are between 40 and 70 functioning democracies among the almost 200 states in the world, depending on how you count them. Pretty small, such an ethically correct market.

Badische Latest News (Karlsruhe): “Olaf Scholz once again proves to be a clever helmsman who averts a political mutiny with a compromise but stays on course. (…) Nobody needs to worry that Hamburger Labskaus will soon be served with chopsticks. The chancellor’s decision may be controversial, but ultimately it was the right one. No one benefits if German naivety towards Russia is followed by an overreaction towards China.

The impetus to ban the Chinese from any involvement, of course, stems from recent bad experiences with critical infrastructure. The fact that Germany almost surrendered itself to Russia when it came to importing gas (…) is rightly considered a fall from grace. But: A minority stake in the smallest of four container terminals owned by the majority-owned Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG is not access to critical infrastructure.”