US Pouring Billions Into Replacing China-Made Cranes

US Pouring Billions Into Replacing China-Made Cranes

( – International trade is a major part of the US economy. Every day, ships dock at ports around the country, where workers unload containers of goods from around the world. Shipping cranes help speed up the process, but national security and Pentagon officials have long worried that the ones in use — Chinese-made ship-to-shore cranes made by ZPMC — are a risk. Now, it appears that President Joe Biden’s administration is looking to address the issue head-on.

Another Spy Technique?

Like most modern vehicles, the cranes at the US ports are equipped with high-functioning technology that helps ensure operations run smoothly. On the flip side, however, intelligence officials believe it could provide a gateway for the Chinese to spy and capture data, particularly about goods to support global US military operations being shipped into and out of the country. If that wasn’t enough, officials have highlighted the possibility that someone could hijack the vehicle via remote access and disrupt operations.

In recent years, the US has had to deal with Chinese technology on different levels. Officials have effectively banned Huawei equipment because of the potential spy risk. Then, there’s the issue of the spy balloon that floated across the US last year, which China was quick to refute, insisting it was a weather balloon.

US Takes Action: Plans to Invest Billions

As part of the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal signed in 2021, more than $20 billion was allocated to upgrade port security over the next five years. That led the way for the US to deploy domestically-produced cranes at the nation’s ports, which will be manufactured by a US subsidiary of Japanese company Mitsui.

According to The Wall Street Journal, US Deputy National Security Adviser for Cyber and Emerging Technology, Anne Neuberger, said the threat is real because “if they were encrypted in a criminal attack, or rented or operated by an adversary, that could have a real impact” on the US economy’s and military’s “movement of goods through ports.”

Jenna McLaughlin, a cybersecurity correspondent with NPR spoke with “All Things Considered” host Mary Louise Kelly on the issue. She pointed out that the Coast Guard is inspecting the Chinese-made cranes and is about halfway done, after which they’ll “requir[e] minimum standards for security compliance.” She noted that President Joe Biden signed a new executive order giving the Coast Guard “more power over the ports.”

According to McLaughlin, the US isn’t planning on disposing of the vehicles, but rather managing the risk and expanding options so they aren’t “relying so heavily on these vulnerable cranes.”

China’s Reaction

Per WSJ, China is accusing the United States of being paranoid in its assertions, saying it is “overstretching the concept of national security and abusing national power” in a move to disrupt the trade between the two nations. Further, a spokesperson for China’s embassy in Washington, Liu Pengyu, said such actions “will harm” the US’ interests.

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