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Germany warns EU against hitting China through Russia sanctions

(From L to R) the Chinese, European Union (EU) and German national flags are pictured at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, November 25, 2016. (File photo by Reuters)

Germany has called on the other member states of the European Union (EU) to refrain from targeting China through imposing sanctions against Russia.

Since Russia launched its “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the EU has imposed 10 rounds of sanctions, banning Russian oil. Brussels has also banned Russian individuals, banks and airlines’ flights in the EU airspace.

However, media reports, citing five sources familiar with the matter, said on Thursday that during a first discussion among the 27 EU countries on the proposed new restrictions for the 11th round of sanctions against Russia, Germany warned others against damaging relations with China.

The EU leadership had proposed blacklisting several Chinese companies and introducing a new mechanism that would open the way to a possible restriction of EU exports in the future to countries that flout the sanctions.

Germany and several other countries, according to the sources, raised concerns about targeting Chinese companies and spoke about the necessity to strike a balance between enforcing anti-Moscow sanctions and upsetting international diplomatic and trade ties.

The 11th package of sanctions – if approved – could be enacted later in May or June.

To approve the new sanctions, which require considerable technical work and clarifications, all EU countries need to agree to the proposed new sanctions, which would expand earlier sanctions targeting individuals, oil exports, and road transit of EU goods via Russia. Certain members have raised the need to revise the G7 oil cap, said the sources.

In the meantime, Germany has approved a deal that sees Chinese company COSCO acquire a portion of Hamburg port. The shipping company secured a 24.99% stake in the Tollerort container terminal at Hamburg port, which is classified as critical infrastructure.

For the past seven years, China has been Germany's biggest trade partner with the value of trade between the countries rising to a record €298 billion ($320 billion) in 2022.

The EU's three industrial heavyweights, namely Germany, Italy and France, have made efforts to remain independent from the US foreign policy regarding China.

Washington became estranged from Beijing over a host of issues, ranging from trade to security, and particularly the US policy on Chinese Taipei.

Washington’s call on allies to join forces with the United States as its mounts pressure on Beijing has fallen on deaf ears. In this regard, French President Emmanuel Macron said last month that Paris is not a follower of the US policies on China, insisting that being a US ally does not necessarily mean being a "vassal" of the United States.

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