Biden Admin To Spend Billions Rooting Out Chinese Tech Risks At US Ports

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Jake Smith Contributor
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The Biden administration plans to spend billions on domestic-built cargo cranes to replace Chinese ones that pose a potential national security threat, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

The investment is part of a larger plan to bolster U.S. security on the maritime stage, which includes improving standards for cybersecurity in computer networks and in foreign-built cranes operating in seaports, according to WSJ. The U.S. and intelligence agencies are concerned that China is acting on multiple fronts to commit espionage on American soil and disrupt national cybersecurity. (RELATED: Chinese Hackers Have Been Secretly Embedded In Key US Infrastructure Hubs For ‘At Least Five Years’: REPORT)

Concerns were previously raised that massive Chinese cranes at U.S. seaports – some used by the military – were a surveillance threat, and could be used to disrupt American shipping, according to the WSJ. Beijing previously called concerns over Chinese cyber threats in the U.S. “paranoia driven.”

“The U.S. is taking necessary steps by implementing new cybersecurity measures in our ports and replacing Chinese port cranes that the Pentagon has flagged for risk of espionage and sabotage,” Michael Lucci, founder and CEO of State Armor, said in a statement on Wednesday. “This action once again makes clear that the Chinese Communist threat is deep and widespread within the U.S. The federal government, states, and private industry must quickly unwind our dependence on China’s totalitarian technologies.”

“By design, these cranes may be controlled, serviced and programmed from remote locations,” said Rear Adm. John Vann, head of the Coast Guard’s cyber command, according to the WSJ. “These features potentially leave [Chinese]-manufactured cranes vulnerable to exploitation.”

The existing Chinese-built cranes are relatively cheap to produce but contain a host of sensors and capabilities to track containers being shipped out of ports, creating concerns that China could access sensitive information about equipment shipped to support the U.S. military, according to the WSJ. The domestically-built cranes the Biden administration is opting for will be built by the U.S. subsidiary of Japanese company Mitsui.

Over $20 billion will be invested over the next five years in the manufacturing of these cranes, according to the WSJ. The project will be funded by a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by Congress in 2021.

It has been over 30 years since such cranes have been built domestically.

U.S. intelligence agencies have raised alarm that China-backed hacking and cyber operations are targeting key American infrastructure systems, such as water or energy plants. In an emergency scenario – such as a Chinese invasion of Taiwan – China could disrupt these systems and cripple an American response.

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