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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Final version of defense bill would include, but delay, ban on Chinese transit builders NEWSWIRE

Final version of defense bill would include, but delay, ban on Chinese transit builders NEWSWIRE

By | December 11, 2019

Except in DC, prohibition on federal dollars for transit equipment from CRRC, other firms would be pushed back by two years

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WASHINGTON – The final version of a defense funding bill in Congress would ban federal funding for transit equipment from Chinese companies — but would also delay that ban for two years in most cases.

Roll Call reports that the conference version of the National Defense Authorization Act would prohibit the use of federal dollars for rail equipment or busses from any enterprise owned or controlled by a foreign government. The provision is aimed primarily at CRRC, the Chinese company that is the world’s largest rail equipment manufacturer. [See “Proposed ban on Chinese railcars gets White House support,” Trains News Wire, Sept. 9, 2019.] Cybersecurity issues have often been cited as grounds for the ban, but there are also concerns that the company’s government backing allows it to underbid other, privately owned firms. [See “Railcar manufacturer CRRC a target in U.S.-China trade war,” Trains News Wire, June 25, 2019.]

However, the ban would only be immediately effective in Washington, D.C., where CRRC has bid for new equipment for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Elsewhere, there will be a two-year delay in implementation. The Chicago Tribune reports this might allow CRRC to expand its production in South Chicago, where subsidiary CRRC Sifang is currently building new cars for Chicago Transit Authority.

The final draft of the defense bill, created in a conference of House and Senate members, must still pass both houses of Congress and be signed by President Donald Trump.

“The current version of the NDAA ensures public transit agencies will continue to benefit from competition in the passenger rail car industry for at least two years after the NDAA is enacted,” Marina Popovic, human resources director and chief legal counsel for CRRC Sifang, said in a statement quoted by Roll Call and the Tribune.

The Chicago plant currently employs 100 workers, with another 70 jobs expected as production of the CTA cars ramps up. CRRC spokesman Dave Smolensky told the Tribune that the company could add 100 more jobs if it lands another contract.

The company has submitted a bid to Metra to build new railcars for the commuter railroad. Another affiliate, CRRC MA, is building equipment for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, Los Angeles Metro, and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. The MBTA equipment has reportedly been sidelined by an unexplained noise in the underbody [see “MBTA pulls new Orange Line rail cars from service,” Trains News Wire, Dec. 4, 2019], while delivery of the SEPTA equipment is behind schedule [see “New SEPTA cars from CRRC to be delayed,” Trains News Wire, July 1, 2019]

14 thoughts on “Final version of defense bill would include, but delay, ban on Chinese transit builders NEWSWIRE

  1. Mr Landey, I was looking at pictures of Nashville International Airport. Are you sure the signage was not Japanese. I don’t know any Japanese, however the signage that I saw in pictures looks more like Japanese than Chinese.
    Try to remember that there are several Japanese owned auto plants in Tennessee. And their supporting businesses.

  2. IAN – Dumb me. Could be Japanese! Dumb me! Japanese, not Chinese. There is one Japanese assembly plant in Tennessee, Smyrna, which is about 20 miles from BNA Nashville International Airport. Dumb me. I stand corrected. My apologies to all. I can’t tell Japanese from Chinese and I can’t think my way out of a paper bag.

    The Nissan plant at Smyrna is considered the oldest of the “transplants” and Nissan/ Renault/ Mitsubishi isn’t doing particularly well in USA, so I don’t expect the plant to be around much longer. Nissan has at least one other (and newer) assembly plant is USA, I think in Mississippi.

    I travel to Smyrna several times each year. I’m not aware of Japanese presence in the stores and restaurants. Smyrna is like America as a whole: black, white, and Mexican with a scattering of other races, seemingly with no more Japanese than anywhere else. Ditto, the BNA airport.

  3. Let’s ban everything from China – meaning each of us would need to hire a dumpster sitting in the driveway of our house, we could never find anything to buy at Walmart or at Best Buy, or for that matter couldn’t log onto this web site (or any other) with our phones or our computers.

    Oh, yes, we couldn’t buy an automobile than has Chinese parts.

    Honestly, I believe our Congress is a bunch of idiots. As are the people who elect them.

  4. ANNA – No it’s not “some new form of yellow peril”. It’s an attempt by Congress to micromanage America’s way out of a moral dilemma. No we don’t like communism but we very much do like the fact that Red China keeps our entire economy afloat while providing each American family with a horn of plenty of consumer goods at affordable prices.

    Remember back in the 1980’s we boycotted Apartheid – era South Africa, thereby bringing downs its government? Too bad for South Africa it wasn’t the largest market for General Motors. Too bad for South Africa it wasn’t writing our software code and building our telecom networks. Too bad for South Africa it wasn’t putting a “telephone” (actually a minicomputer) into the ear of every American walking through every airport or train station.

    At the Nashville Airport, signs are in three languages – English and Spanish (obviously) but also Chinese. If Apartheid – era South Africa had been underpinning our entire standard of living, there would have been signs in American airports in Afrikaans. Not a boycott but a huge trading partnership.

  5. I don’t see any engagement with the moral dilemma here. The moral dilemma is that China is autocratic, treats certain minorities poorly and has a questionable human rights record. None of that really counts though, we happily do business in other locations that are worse (Saudi Arabia comes to mind). The issue here is potential unfair competition, allegedly due to government support of Chinese enterprise. Another issue is fear of Chinese power (which I don’t believe to be strictly racist). Another issue is that established competitors are trying to succeed through the political process rather than successfully competing.

  6. “A Chinaman’s chance.”

    Can we please stop with racist stuff here? I can’t believe I have to say this in 2019.

    I’ve worked in IT for 25 years and this whole “spying on people through subway cars” angle is ludicrous. Yes it’s theoretically possible, but why would anyone do that?

    However, it seems to me not unreasonable to bar contracts with federal money from companies that are state owned. They’re clearly being subsidized by whatever state owns them.

  7. Mister Friedman:

    I must concur. Racism has no place in this forum. When I spoke of The Yellow Peril (which started that vein of thought) I was thinking of racism to be sure, but not in the capacity of promoting it, but rather in the capacity of bringing it up as a historical reference to something we should not be repeating. If in doing so I have offended anyone, this was not my intent, and I do so apologize.

    Moving forward … if that is possible … I also made mention of Bombardier and their ownership of the Budd designs. I just ran across another interesting tidbit. When Alco wound down they sold their designs to MLW (which licenced them to various entities including Diesel Locomotive Works of India). However, in 1975 MLW was in turn acquired by Bombardier.

    Unfortunately the Alco 251 engine was not part of this sale. That design was sold to, eventually, Fairbanks-Morse and was still in production in 2018. They are the preferred engine for emergency power in many nuclear plants because they are high reliability at good cost.

    As a further digression, the Alco RSD-1 was shipped to the Soviet Union as part of the Allied war effort and the Alco 539 engine was reverse engineered and went into mass production as the TE-1. Later the Soviets got their hands on Alco 251 engines, reverse engineered these, and produced them en masse.

    Bombardier has a lot of the older technology in its archives. If they were to make a serious effort to compete in the railcar industry they have a lot of stuff that is known to work right, that they could simply pull off the shelf and put together.

    While I have every desire to stay out of the moral argument concerning purchase of CRRC equipment, there are North American alternatives. My thesis here is that were Bombardier to be sufficiently motivated these alternatives could be spun up on fairly short notice.

    The above comments are genetic in nature and do not form the basis for an attorney/client relationship. They do not constitute legal advice. I am not your attorney. Antelope Valley Freeway, 1/16th mile.

  8. PS Mr Landey. I did a little looking and without calling the airport, the signage I saw in pictures was Japanese and Spanish. I can usually intuit the differences between Mandarin, Korean, and Japanese caligraphy(?). No I don’t speak or read either of the three languages.
    One other comment the other language used(I believe) was Spanish. It could have just as easily been Portuguese. The Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer has a facility at the Nashville International Airport, to support sales to North American customers.
    Having friends and making friends around the world means you can look at an issue with many perspectives. And not make people who would be friendly hostile. I can think of all too many times, this country did something that because the consequences were not thought about, later blew up in our face. (In my lifetime)

    As I am reminded, I am but a worn out truck driver. A very fallable human being. Nothing more, nothing less.

  9. MIKE – Chill. Some good-natured trash talk (using the term “Chinaman”) isn’t the same as racism. Neither one of us has met Anna but my guess is she has friends of all races and treats everyone of all cultures with respect and dignity.

    MIKE – You might try the same. If you do, you’ll find that a little innocent ethnic humor is shared by people of all colors and backgrounds.

  10. Mister Landey:

    There is overt racism where there is no question as to the speaker’s intent. But there is also racism which is not necessarily meant as such but which is taken as so in the eye of the beholder. There is also, as you know, a contingent in our society which makes a profession out of being offended.

    The first group cannot be dealt with. Frequently the third group cannot be dealt with, as they frequently are operating on an agenda which is not honest. The second group can be dealt with because they are willing to listen and take remarks made in the context in which they are made.

    As for myself, I’m five feet high, five feet high, covered with rank black hair, and have breath that can peel the chrome off a Chevy at a hundred paces. And that doesn’t even count the cigar smoke. And I hate everyone equally.

    The above remarks are genetic in nature and do not form the basis for an attorney/client relationship. They do not constitute legal advice. I am not your attorney. Why, I never! No, and with those soup cans on your head you never will, either.

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