Several types of Chinese Navy warships are powered by engines that were developed or built by German builders, a survey conducted by the public broadcaster ARD and the Welt am Sonntag newspaper revealed on Saturday.
The two companies involved are MTU in Friedrichshafen and the French branch of Volkswagen’s subsidiary MAN, according to the report.
The two companies told media outlets that they have always complied with export control regulations and have publicly stated that they are involved in the Chinese military.
Details of MTU’s engine deliveries to China were found on the publicly accessible website of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
SIPRI indexes arms transactions and arms transfers for publications and reports.
Dual-use technologies fall into a “gray area”
According to SIPRI, MTU was a regular supplier of engines for Luyang III-class guided missile destroyers through a licensed production facility in China until at least 2020.
Chinese Luyang-class destroyers are equipped with state-of-the-art weapon systems
In addition, MTU reportedly supplied engines that were used in Chinese Song-class submarines.
However, the company headquarters told ARD and Welt am Sonntag that they had “definitively ceased” to supply engines to submarines.
The company claims that it “has not concluded any contracts with the Chinese Ministry of Defense or the armed forces.”
However, with the creation of a joint venture in China in 2010, the boss of the company known at the time as Tognum had noted deliveries of “marine engines for the navy and the Chinese coast guard” .
Similarly, in 2002, SEMT Pielstick, the French subsidiary of MAN, published on the company’s website the announcement of its delivery of PA6 engines manufactured for a new generation of frigates licensed in China. This element can still be located on the archive pages of the site.
SIPRI noted that the MTU engine installed on Chinese warships is a so-called dual-use technology that does not require an export license.
âThere is a gray area there,â said Siemon Wezeman of SIPRI.
The EU embargo on toothless guns
The Chinese Navy is commissioning more Luyang III destroyers this year. Ships of this class are equipped with surface-to-air missiles and cruise missiles.
China commissioned the Kaifeng in July to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
Following the massacre of students and others demonstrating for democracy in Tiananmen Square in 1989, the EU imposed an arms embargo, but with limited binding effect.
Sebastian Rossner, a Cologne-based lawyer and export expert, told German public broadcaster ARD: âSince the EU arms embargo against China has not been formally decided in accordance with EU treaties, some exports of ship engines may also be authorized for the Chinese Navy. . “
“If you want to change that, the EU must either change the dual use regulation or formally impose an arms embargo,” he added.
China has aggressively claimed territorial claims over disputed South China Sea islands in recent years, sparking tensions with the United States and its European allies.
A year ago, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned against “a rapidly increasing armaments dynamic” in the Indo-Pacific region.
In August, the German frigate Bayern left Wilhelmshaven for a six-month trip to the Indo-Pacific.
Germany has sought to strengthen its presence in the region, and a Chinese shutdown was supposed to help defuse tensions over the naval mission. But in September, China rejected Germany’s request to allow Bayern to stop over in Shanghai.