Berlin wants to diversify its business interests in Asia and become less dependent on China, German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said in an interview with DW in Singapore on Sunday.
“We are, of course, interested in trade with China, but not in stupid trade with China,” Habeck said in the interview with the German media.
He said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had highlighted the danger of overreliance on one country.
“Goods from critical sectors like telecommunications, the energy sector, chips and semiconductors need to be protected,” Habeck said. “That doesn’t mean there’s no opportunity to do business. But we have to make sure we have [our] own sovereignty in this area, and that is what we are doing now.
Last week, Habeck blocked Chinese investors from buying a German chip factory, saying the country needed to protect key industries from potential security threats.
Habeck said there could be certain sectors where Chinese investment would be “problematic”, including airports, hospitals or ports.
His comments come after Berlin gave Chinese state-owned Cosco the go-ahead to acquire part of a terminal in the strategically important port of Hamburg last month. The investment in the port was a watered down version of what Cosco had originally planned, but which still caused consternation within the ruling coalition in Berlin. Habeck, who opposed the investment, pointed out that the deal was watered down.
“I think it’s only half a measure, half a victory in a way,” Habeck said. “But we have to have unity in the Cabinet. And that was the only way to get that unity. So it was a step forward, but not all the way.”