A Chinese official accused the U.S. of being paranoid for expressing concerns that shipping cranes manufactured in China could be used for espionage against the United States.
National security and Pentagon officials told the Wall Street Journal they were investigating concerns that cargo cranes widely used at American ports could be using sophisticated technology to monitor U.S. logistics operations, an idea dismissed by China’s Foreign Ministry.
“The claim is complete paranoia,” Mao Ning, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said at a Monday news conference, according to Newsweek, adding that voicing such concerns is “misleading to the American public.”
At issue are ship-to-shore cranes manufactured by ZPMC, a Chinese state-owned company that makes close to 80% of cranes currently in use at U.S. ports, including some used by the U.S. military.
American officials have voiced concerns about censors that could monitor U.S. logistical operations as well as technology that allows the cranes to be remotely controlled, opening the door to potential disruptions to the American supply chain.
The cranes are manufactured in China and delivered to the U.S. fully assembled, while Chinese nationals on U.S. visas are sometimes tasked with their operation.
The concerns come after President Biden signed 2023’s $858 billion appropriations bill, which included a request that the Transportation Department investigate “cybersecurity and national security threats posed by foreign manufactured cranes at United States ports.”
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre referred Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy to the Departments of Transportation Defense upon questioning, and noted “The National Security Council, in close coordination with the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense, Coast Guard and members of the Intelligence Committee have been actively working to address potential cyber vulnerabilities across the marine transportation system. This includes enhanced coordination across the federal government and engagement with key stakeholders in the maritime.”
Jean-Pierre continued that in February “The administration issued a worldwide maritime port vulnerability advisory, underscoring the potential threats posed by foreign manufactured port equipment. So, again, this is something that the president takes very seriously and will always action to make sure we protect our national security.”
The spy cranes come just weeks after a Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon was caught drifting over the U.S. and was eventually shot down off the coast of South Carolina, renewing concerns over China’s increasing use of technology for espionage activities in the United States.
The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a Fox News Digital request for comment.