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Alarm bells in Poland over Chinese control of strategic Gdynia port terminal

04.04.2024 13:45
Poland faces growing security concerns over a Hong Kong-based company's significant foothold in the Gdynia port, particularly given its proximity to critical military unloading docks for U.S. and NATO aid to Ukraine, according to a Politico report.
Gdynia Container Terminal.
Gdynia Container Terminal. Photo: PAP/Afa Pixx/Tomasz Degórski

The presence of Hutchison Port Holdings in one of Poland's key maritime gateways has sparked urgent calls for the terminal to be classified as critical infrastructure, amidst fears of potential interference with national and alliance defense operations, state news agency PAP reported on Thursday.

“Everything that has to do with Poland’s security is being analyzed permanently,” Deputy Defense Minister Cezary Tomczyk told Politico.

The strategic significance of the Gdynia Container Terminal (GCT), just a stone's throw from pivotal Polish and NATO military assets, has not only highlighted the potential risks of foreign control over such infrastructure but also the broader EU anxiety over Chinese investments in port infrastructure.

Politico quoted an incident where Hutchison refused to allow the unloading of U.S. military equipment, due to a minor overlap into their controlled zone, has intensified these concerns.

According to Politico, Russia's war against Ukraine has become a wake-up call for Polish authorities, prompting Polish lawmakers to reconsider the security framework surrounding the nation's infrastructure. Marek Biernacki, chair of the Polish parliament’s Special Forces Committee, has voiced the committee's intent to push for the so-called "Chinese wharf" to be officially recognized as a critical infrastructure facility, a move that could bring greater oversight without hampering peacetime operations.

Adding to the complexity is Hutchison's remarkably low lease rates for the terminal, a financial arrangement that raises questions about competitive fairness and potential state revenue losses, alongside the overarching security concerns, Politico reported.

This situation has resonated within the EU, with calls for enhanced protective measures for strategic ports against undue foreign influence, as well as the European Parliament's recent adoption of a report on this issue.

"We need to recognize our ports, especially those listed in the TEN-T (Trans-European Transport Networks) plans, as critical infrastructure so that we are better prepared to monitor investments and prevent unwanted influence from foreign entities," said Dutch MEP Tom Berendsen. "We also urgently need legislation to take control of port infrastructure in critical situations," he added, as quoted by state news agency PAP.


Source: PAP, Politico