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Cranes at US Ports Pose No Security Risk: Shanghai Zhenhua

US lawmakers say cellular modems were found installed on cranes made by China’s Shanghai Zhenhua, but the company says its cranes pose no security risk to any ports

Giant port cranes made by Shanghai Zhenhua (company image).


A Chinese conglomerate has denied claims that cranes it made and provided to US ports represent a cybersecurity threat.

The response from Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries (ZPMC) follows a congressional investigation that found some Chinese-made cranes used at US ports contain communications equipment with no clear purpose or record of their installation.

The probe has heightened US concern that the cranes – said to number over 200 – could be used for surveillance or infrastructure sabotage.


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According to CNN, a Congressional aide said House lawmakers found cellular modems installed on the cranes — which can be used for remote communication, but were not documented in any contract between US ports and Chinese crane maker ZPMC.

It quoted Mark Green, Republican chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, as saying: “Our Committees’ investigation found vulnerabilities in cranes at US ports that could allow the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] to not only undercut trade competitors through espionage, but disrupt supply chains and the movement of cargo, devastating our nation’s economy.”

A spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC said claims that Chinese-made cranes pose a security risk were “entirely paranoia.”

But the company’s response was straight-forward.

“ZPMC takes the US concerns seriously and believes that these reports can easily mislead the public without sufficient factual review,” it said in a filing, referring to the probe by the Homeland Security and Strategic Competition committees.

“The cranes provided by ZPMC do not pose a cybersecurity risk to any ports,” it said.

A House of Representatives security panels, which is scrutinising ZPMC’s installation of Swiss engineering group ABB’s equipment onto US-bound ship-to-shore cranes, invited ABB executives to public hearings in January to clarify its relationship with ZPMC, which they said raised “significant concerns”.

ABB has said it sold its control and electrification equipment to many crane manufacturers, including Chinese companies, which in turn sold cranes directly to US ports.


Concern re cyberattacks on infrastructure

US President Biden signed an Executive Order in mid-February to bolster the Department of Homeland Security’s authority to directly address maritime cyber threats, including through cybersecurity standards to ensure that American ports’ networks and systems are secure.

The move aimed to shore up concern that vulnerabilities at US maritime ports that could be exploited by hackers and address possible security risks from Chinese-made cranes.

The US and China, the world’s biggest economies, frequently accuse each other of cyberattacks and industrial espionage.

Washington has said it disrupted a Chinese cyber-spying operation targeting US infrastructure and was investigating Chinese vehicle imports for national security risks. It previously barred Chinese telecom companies.

ZPMC said the cranes it supplies are used in ports around the world, including the United States, and comply with international standards and applicable laws and regulations.

Listed on the Shanghai stock exchange, ZPMC is one of the largest port machinery manufacturers in the world, owning a fleet of more than 20 transportation vessels, according to its website.

ABB generates 16% of its sales from China, second only to the US market at 24%.


  • Reuters with additional inputs and editing by Jim Pollard




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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years.


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