Exclusive: One senior executive of a Chinese PV enterprise was ‘forcibly taken away’ in Germany: sources
Published: Jun 12, 2023 10:44 PM
The photo taken on September 11, 2020 shows photovoltaic solar panels in Xigaze, Southwest China's Xizang Autonomous Region. Photo: VCG

The photo taken on September 11, 2020 shows photovoltaic solar panels in Xigaze, Southwest China's Xizang Autonomous Region. Photo: VCG

One senior executive of a Chinese photovoltaic enterprise was forcibly taken away in Germany by authorities on Monday, the Global Times confirmed with several industry insiders. 

Some industry experts also warned of a potential crackdown measure and said they were following the incident closely.   

The person was taken away by people "wearing uniforms" and the incident happened after PV executives flew to Germany to participate in Intersolar Europe, the world's largest solar technology exhibition, which will take place in Munich from Wednesday to Friday, according to a report by the Shanghai Securities News (SSN). 

An industry insider who requested anonymity confirmed the matter with the Global Times, but said he was not aware of the specific list of people. He speculated whether the incident was related to trade issues between China and Europe on the solar industry.

Another industry insider also told the Global Times on Monday that they have confirmed the incident with Chinese solar exhibitors on site, but was not clear about details.

The SSN report quoted an anonymous senior executive from a listed photovoltaic company as saying that relevant Germany authorities could "have a detailed, lengthy list of [Chinese people] under border control, and are aware of their seats on the plane and where they stay once they have arrived in Germany."

Another anonymous industry insider said that more than one Chinese executives had been taken away, and some of them were "taken away immediately after their planes landed at the Munich airport," the SSN report said.

The Chinese Embassy in Germany did not respond to an interview request of the Global Times as of press time on Monday. 

"It is too early to jump to any conclusion and we need to observe how things will develop in the following days," another industry insider who only spoke on condition of anonymity told the Global Times on Monday. But he warned of a potential crackdown as China's PV sector "claimed an overwhelming edge in the global supply chain." 

Many in China are watching the incident closely. On Sina Weibo, a social media platform, the topic has garnered more than 27.05 million views as of press time on Monday. Many raised questions about how the person was taken away and what had prompted it. 

Some industry insiders said the sudden development reminded them of an incident that happened in 2019, when a number of senior executives of Chinese photovoltaic companies were reportedly taken away by German authorities during the Intersolar Europe exhibition, which sent shockwaves across the industry at that time.

Thomas Liu, an industry veteran, told the Global Times on Monday that as far as he had learned from people in Munich, the incident might be a follow-up to the anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation in 2019, and it was "an individual case." 

"The relevant industry chain of photovoltaic products in Europe is vulnerable, and Europe currently cannot afford the cost of 'decoupling' from Chinese photovoltaic products," said Liu.
German customs authorities executed two arrest warrants against Chinese nationals at the Intersolar Europe show held in 2019, along with a third Chinese national, who was also arrested in mid-May that year, PV Magazine reported. 

Some were also suspected of circumventing anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures imposed on Chinese PV manufacturers. 

One executive was suspected of being involved in the smuggling of solar modules into Europe in a case related to an investigation into similar activity by representatives of Chinese manufacturer Risen that had already resulted in prosecutions, the report said. 

In September 2018, the EU ended anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures imposed on solar PV cells and modules from China since 2013. As such, the minimum import price (MIP) measures on solar panels made in China expired in September 2018. 

The SSN report said that about 80 percent of Chinese-made PV products were exported to the European market before 2013 when the duties were levied. But the share has dived to less than 10 percent since. 

In recent years, exports of new-energy vehicles, PV and lithium battery products - known as China's "new three items" - have gained vogue.
Liu said that China-produced PV products account for over 70 percent of the global market share, and nearly 100 percent of the European market.