US plan to replace China-made cranes over so-called national security concerns 'absurd'

(Global Times) 14:09, February 23, 2024

The US' plan to invest billions in domestic manufacturing of cargo cranes to replace ones made in China due to so-called potential "national security risks" is absurd and unlikely to succeed, experts said.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that the administration of President Joe Biden plans to invest billions in the domestic manufacturing of cargo cranes used at US ports. The administration aims to replace the China-built cranes, which it claims contain advanced software that poses a so-called potential national security risk.

Administration officials said more than $20 billion would be invested in port security, including domestic cargo-crane production, over the next five years. The money, tapped from the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill passed in 2021, would support a US subsidiary of Mitsui, a Japanese company, to produce the cranes. Officials said it would be the first time in 30 years that the cranes would be built domestically, according to the report.

Chinese authorities have firmly rejected the frequent "China threat" hype from the US.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told a press conference in January that some US politicians have been blowing up the "China threat" bubble, while exposing their real aim of suppressing China's development in the name of national security.

Two US Congress committees are currently looking into Swiss engineering group ABB's operations in China, particularly regarding the installation of ABB equipment by Chinese firm Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries (ZPMC) on ship-to-shore cranes that are bound for the US.

Some national security and Pentagon officials have compared ship-to-shore cranes made by ZPMC to a Trojan horse, claiming that they contain sophisticated sensors that can register and track the provenance and destination of containers, the Wall Street Journal reported in March 2023.

For some US politicians, anything advanced from China can be a "threat" and must be stopped by all means. This is sheer bullying and hegemonism, Wang said.

"The true aim of the US is to exclude Chinese manufacturing from its entire supply chain system, to hinder China's industrialization process and prevent Chinese modernization," Tian Yun, a veteran economist based in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday.

The goal is to further strike at China in terms of trade and economic cooperation, Tian said.

The claim from US politicians is absurd, as the crane itself operates on simple mechanical principles, He Weiwen, a senior fellow from the Center for China and Globalization, told the Global Times on Thursday. It is ridiculous to rely on guesswork to determine the security of ordinary trade, He added.

He also noted that Biden's domestic manufacturing replacement plan is unlikely to succeed.

"In the 1990s, many US ports had ZPMC cranes, which were seen as cost-effective. Domestic production would be costly and would rely heavily on federal subsidies. Now, the US government struggles to even subsidize chip production, let alone cranes," he said.

According to senior administration officials, 80 percent of ship-to-shore cranes moving trade at US ports were manufactured in China, CNBC reported.

"If the US insists on generalizing national security, it will eventually have to produce everything itself, even toys," He said.

(Web editor: Tian Yi, Zhong Wenxing)


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