Port Miami (File)

Florida Sen. Scott, Rep. Gimenez Say Biden Admin Failing To Provide Report On Chinese Spys At US ports

Port Miami (File)
Port Miami (File)

Republican lawmakers have criticized President Joe Biden for turning a blind eye to China’s spying on U.S. assets — whether it was allowing a giant Chinese spy balloon to float over the heart of the country for nearly a week, doing nothing to block Chinese ownership of an oil rig off the coast of Florida, or failing to stop China’s theft of U.S. intellectual property.

Now, GOP lawmakers are concerned about Chinese cranes operating at U.S. ports.

On Friday, Sen. Rick Scott, a Florida Republican, and GOP Rep. Carlos Gimenez of Miami demanded that the head of the U.S Maritime Administration explain why the Biden administration is more than five months late in issuing a mandatory report about cybersecurity and national security threats posed by foreign-manufactured cranes at America’s ports.

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In the letter to agency Administrator Rear Adm. Ann. Phillips, the lawmakers note “growing concern” over the presence of communication equipment on such cranes manufactured by Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries, owned by the Chinese government.

They also pointed out that the FBI discovered intelligence-gathering equipment on a ship transporting cranes into Baltimore in 2021.

“This surreptitiously installed communication equipment potentially jeopardizes critical U.S. infrastructure and presents a serious threat to national security,” the lawmakers wrote.

Multiple sources say Miami is America’s 10th-busiest port, and Jacksonville, Tampa, and Port Everglades are not far behind. 

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In their letter, Scott and Gimenez wrote, “One can only imagine the ramifications of a large-scale attack on ports equipped with Chinese-made cranes that could cripple our economy.”

“The overall security of our ports and, consequently, our national security hinges upon a comprehensive understanding of the technology embedded within these cranes and the implementation of stringent oversight measures to mitigate any potential threats to our nation.”

Their letter notes that Congress passed a bill by Gimenez requiring inspections of such equipment and that the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act required a report about those inquiries be submitted to Congress by December.

So far, lawmakers have received nothing from the Biden administration.

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“Safeguarding critical infrastructure from threats posed by foreign adversaries and securing the nation’s supply chains are of the utmost importance,” they added in the letter to Phillips. “Unfortunately, it appears the Maritime Administration apparently does not share the same sense of urgency in keeping our ports safe—as evidenced by your agency’s failure to meet the deadline to submit the report to Congress.”

“This mandatory report is now six months delinquent, and your agency has provided no updates about its status or anticipated date of completion,” they added. “We would like to know when Congress can expect to receive the report containing the results of this study, as outlined in the legislation.”

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