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Chairman Gimenez: Chinese-Manufactured Port Equipment, Technology “Introduce Significant Supply Chain Vulnerabilities”

April 5, 2024

MIAMI, FL –– Today, House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime Security Chairman Carlos Gimenez (R-FL) delivered the following opening statement in a joint hearing at PortMiami with the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation entitled, “Port Safety, Security, and Infrastructure Investment.” In the hearing, Subcommittee Chairman Gimenez highlighted the Committee’s ongoing joint investigation with the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party into port security vulnerabilities and threats posed to U.S. maritime ports by cyber criminals and our adversaries. Today’s hearing comes in the wake of the tragic collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, last week.

Watch Subcommittee Chairman Gimenez’s full opening remarks here.

As prepared for delivery:

On behalf of my constituents in the 28th District of Florida, I would like to welcome my colleagues and our distinguished witnesses to Miami. Today, our guests will further learn what I have long known: that Miami is a unique, robust city that has much to offer to both its residents and its visitors. Our venue, PortMiami, is one of the busiest passenger and cargo ports in the United States. I am excited to use this hearing to further examine the integral role it plays in our city and more broadly our country. 
First, I would like to offer my sincere condolences to the families of the individuals that passed away or were negatively impacted by the tragic collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland last week and express my gratitude to the men and women of the United States Coast Guard and other federal, state and local authorities who are responding to the incident. While we are not aware of any malicious actors responsible for the incident, the severity of the collapse of the bridge underscores the importance of what we are discussing today.
Before I was elected to Congress, I served for 25 years as a firefighter with the City of Miami Fire Department. I then had the privilege of serving as the Mayor of Miami-Dade County and City Manager for the City of Miami. It was during my time as Mayor of Miami Dade that I saw the critical impact that the PortMiami and maritime-born trade has on Miami and the state of Florida.
Our port here is not only a hub of commerce – it is a gateway to the world. Major disruptions to the port’s operations – like what we are witnessing in Baltimore – would severely harm the local economy and hinder the region’s connectivity to the rest of the United States and beyond.
It was for that reason I worked hard during my tenure as Mayor of Miami Dade, and will continue to do so in my current capacity, to ensure PortMiami  has what it needs to operate safely, effectively, and securely. In my current role as Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee’s Transportation and Maritime Security Subcommittee, I am continuously concerned by the security threats facing maritime ports across the country.
I am especially worried by the security vulnerabilities that exist with port equipment that is manufactured or installed in the People’s Republic of China. The ship-to-shore cranes towering over our docks — while instrumental to our port operations — are a focal point of that concern.
Most of the U.S. port ship-to-shore cranes – nearly 80 percent – are made by ZPMC, a Chinese state-owned enterprise under the direct control of the Chinese Communist Party. This near-monopoly allows for ZPMC to compromise U.S.-bound cranes that could cause malfunction or facilitate cyber espionage at U.S. ports.
This situation not only presents cybersecurity threats but also supply chain vulnerabilities that could be exploited by those who wish to inflict damage on our nation that could have lasting impacts. Unfortunately, Communist China’s influence in the supply chain extends beyond state-owned enterprises like ZPMC.
Third-party companies often create the internal operational components for these ship-to-shore cranes. These components include programmable logic controllers which control many ship-to-shore crane systems, as well as crane drives and motors. In almost all cases, ZPMC requires that these companies ship their components to the PRC where they can be installed by ZPMC engineers or technicians.
As my subcommittee has discussed in previous hearings, the proliferation of port equipment and operational technology manufactured or installed by engineers in the PRC introduce significant supply chain vulnerabilities into our Maritime Transportation System. As a country, we must acknowledge and assess these risks, threats, and vulnerabilities and decide how to effectively respond.
In February, the Biden administration signed an executive order providing the U.S. Coast Guard with new authorities to respond to potential malicious actors targeting our maritime sector—and particularly those from the PRC. While I commend the administration on this initial action, I believe we need to continue examining this crucial topic and ensure that our ports are protected from security threats.
To do so, I have brought together a group of members from the China Select Committee and the Committee on Homeland Security, to investigate some of the vulnerabilities associated with PRC-manufactured port cranes and the consequences of having a supply chain that is overly reliant upon equipment sourced from our greatest geopolitical competitor. 
Additionally, I have introduced legislative solutions – such as my Port Crane Security and Inspection Act – to ensure the U.S. Coast Guard and other federal agencies responsible for safeguarding maritime ports have the tools and authorities necessary to deter hostile actors from operating against our ports.
I am glad to be participating in today’s hearing which will allow us to continue to address this critical topic and deliver a strong message to our adversaries interested in meddling in our ports.