Who needs spy balloons? China-made cranes at U.S. ports could give Chinese government a bird’s-eye view

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Zhenhua Heavy Industries Co. Ltd (ZPMC), a China government-owned company that makes 80% of the cranes used by American ports, is the latest concern for officials worried that China’s spying tools could easily be deployed by the high-tech, sky-scraping, next-generation cranes.

A report from the Wall Street Journal says that the Pentagon has been pondering the sophisticated sensors that can be deployed at the tops of the cranes, that officials compare to a Trojan horse — one that can register, track, and transmit data about what is being shipped in and out of ports such as the Port of Seattle and the Port of Tacoma, which have several of the ZPMC cranes.

The cranes could also provide remote access for a government looking to disrupt the flow of goods, said Bill Evanina, a former top U.S. counterintelligence official, as reported by the newspaper.

Although the Port of Alaska doesn’t currently use ZPMC cranes, such cranes could watch the comings and goings at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, as well as material coming and going from the port that supplies most of Alaska with goods. Like a drone recording images from the sky, this is the kind of security risk that keeps the Pentagon up at night.

ZPMC doesn’t need to turn a profit, unlike its international competitors, according to experts. That means the price for a ZPMC crane could be well below the $12 million or more that is typically charged.

The cranes reach over 160 feet in the air and are typically used in areas with unobstructed views from the top, which has electronics, including cameras. With the booms up, the cranes stand 434 feet high – as tall as a 30-floor building.

Democrat Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington State celebrated the new cranes coming from China into Seattle two years ago.

“Farmers, manufacturers, and other exporters from Washington state to the Midwest depend on the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma to quickly move their products to buyers in Asia and beyond,” said Cantwell, referring to the latest shipment of the China-built cranes at the Port of Seattle. “Expanding capacity at Seattle’s Terminal 5 to handle the largest, newest cargo ships is critical to keeping our ports competitive in the global economy.”

Former Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan also welcomed the China-made cranes: “The maritime industry is part of Seattle’s DNA and home to great workers like ILWU Local 19. The new cranes at the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 5 are key to our economic recovery and will bring a boost to our local economy, speed up shipping for businesses that are reopening, and provide additional family wage jobs to folks who are returning to work.

“We believe The Northwest Seaport Alliance and Terminal 5, have a very strong future ahead. The purchase of these new cranes underscores our commitment to the market and our customers. We know larger ships carrying increased volumes are coming. We want to be out in front of that curve and are preparing our terminal to service our customers’ needs,” stated Ed DeNike, President of SSA Terminals, in 2021.

“Our investment in Terminal 5 ensures that our gateway remains competitive for the next 30 years and beyond,” said Port of Tacoma Commission President and NWSA Co-Chair Dick Marzano. “By adding additional deep-water terminal space, we can serve the largest vessels in the industry and increase cargo volumes that benefit our local, state, and regional economy.”

But all of the celebrating of the made-in-China cranes occurred before the communist government was found to be floating high-tech spy balloons over America.

12 COMMENTS

  1. There is a long history of communist influence over Left Coast ports, see, e.g. Harry Bridges. There is a reason the US kept the ILWU out of the Port of Anchorage.

  2. I might be missing something here, what is the problem. Send some climber up there once a year with a can of spray paint. Problem solved

  3. They lawyers would be displeased as would the saucy internationale “police” stations deployed on this continent in contraversion of the US Constitution – the 1776 one.

  4. Do not obstruct the cameras function! China Joe and son Hunters next trip to China will be awkward and not produce near as much cash for Biden Inc. End of story! Besides there is nothing worth looking at in west coast port cities besides heroine junkies spreading fecal matter on the sidewalks which ends up being washed into their seafood source

  5. I’m thankful everyday for the Church (not churches or organizations), America still has a strong Church that I think is holding God’s judgment and destruction back for His Church’s sake by prayers and works done bringing people to receive. America so vulnerable much to our own bad
    unwise choices, yet we all hadn’t been given over to our greatest enemies. I’m thankful for the founders of America who set this nation upon the Rock and made Jesus the cornerstone of every institution. Aside from Israel, America is special and her enemies can’t destroy us until God wills it.

  6. How quickly can we remove them and replace them with American made cranes? Seems like if they don’t get rid of these in a week or two now that the word is out then we need to mobilize and destroy them ourselves. No doubt the dems will try to stop us.

  7. I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’…in the 2000’s, Cisco outsourced production of most, if not all, of their IT networking equipment (routers, switches and firewalls) to China. Shortly afterward, a Chinese company began flooding the market with cheaper identical clones of the Cisco equipment, because they had the technical specs to reproduce them without having to do the R&D to develop them. Then around 2015 or so, a security researcher discovered that server motherboards built by a Chinese company (Supermicro, IIRC) were surreptitiously forwarding data intercepted on these systems back to China. Anyone at this point who is surprised that “Made in China” products are being used for espionage is simply not paying attention.

  8. In the internet age, anything with electronics has a spying capability built in. In addition to the cranes mentioned in this story, I’d like to add ‘drones’. All those nifty little remote control flying machines that have been used for years for fun and, occasionally, for work. These units carry on board GPS locators, cameras, and other gadgets. The data each one has the ability to accumulate can be downloaded to the internet each time the unit is plugged into a computer for ‘software updates’. It doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to see that collecting this info will eventually produce extremely detailed maps.
    Think about the electronics used in our offices and homes. How much social and financial data can be gleaned from their use? Have you looked at where each one was manufactured? Have we considered which companies (U.S. or foreign) regularly work with ANY chinese entities? Because all business in the CCP functions at the behest of their government.

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