Congress is working on legislation aimed at banning the purchase of Chinese bus and rail infrastructure by Americans. Some advocates are happy about protecting U.S. manufacturers, but others are more focused on the possibility that cameras and location tracking devices in Chinese manufactured buses and trains could pose a surveillance threat to Americans. The Wall Street Journal‘s Terfor Moss and Lindsay Wise report:
The effort threatens to further fray U.S. trade talks with China, which wants to become a global player in transport and is already fuming over the U.S. decision to blacklist telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies Co.
Advocates said the ban is needed to protect a U.S. industry from subsidized Chinese competition. They also claim cameras, location trackers and other gear in Chinese buses and trains could provide surveillance and strategic information to China’s authoritarian government.
“It’s in the national interest to make sure we have viable rail and bus industries and to protect us from spying and sabotage of our public transportation system,” Rep. Harley Rouda (D., Calif.) said.
The affected Chinese companies deny they pose a national security risk or have unfair advantages. They said they operate in sectors long open to foreign companies and have created hundreds of jobs by opening U.S. plants.
The House passed its version of the annual defense-policy bill on July 12 with language blocking transit agencies from using federal money to buy railcars made by Chinese state-owned, -controlled or -subsidized companies. That targets the U.S. subsidiaries of China’s state-owned CRRC Corp ., which have been making significant inroads into the U.S. market for railcars, estimated at $18 billion annually.
Similar language in the Senate version of the bill, which passed in June, also would apply to buses. That provision takes aim at BYD Co. , a Chinese company that sells electric buses for the U.S. market through unit BYD Motors LLC.
The White House said earlier this month that President Trump supports the House provision affecting rail stock, at a minimum.
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