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Chinese company to ensure container security
Posted by: mcq on Friday, March 24, 2006

The Dubai port situation has been settled in favor of those who find it unthinkable that a foreign company associated with a foreign government should be managing port terminals in the US. I have to ask, then, how these same people might view this deal?
One of Americans' favorite beach destinations, the Bahamas, is getting a new U.S. arrival — sophisticated equipment to detect radioactive materials in shipping cargo. But U.S. customs agents won't be on site to supervise the machine's use as a nuclear safeguard for the American shoreline that is just 65 miles away from Freeport. Under an unusual arrangement, a Hong Kong company will help operate the detector.

The Bush administration says it is finalizing a no-bid contract with Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. It acknowledged the deal is the first time a foreign company will be involved in running a radiation detector at an overseas port without American customs agents present.
Unlike the Dubai deal, security actually will be in the hands of a foreign entity with no one from the US supervising it or even being involved. And then there's this little tidbit of information:
Hutchison Whampoa is the world's largest ports operator and among the industry's most-respected companies. It was an early adopter of U.S. anti-terror measures. But its billionaire chairman, Li Ka-Shing, also has substantial business ties to China's government that have raised U.S. concerns over the years.

"Li Ka-Shing is pretty close to a lot of senior leaders of the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party," said Larry M. Wortzel, head of a U.S. government commission that studies China security and economic issues. But Wortzel said Hutchison operates independently from Beijing, and he described Li as "a very legitimate international businessman."
That's reassuring. Of course the same argument was made for DPW. And lost in the fog of that particular deal was the fact that we daily entrusted the UAE to secure the ports at which our most sophisticated naval warships were docked in the Middle East.

But that wasn't good enough for them. In light of that, why would the same people who found the DPW deal to be unacceptable find this one to be ok?

After all, there's this in their past:
And a U.S. military intelligence report, once marked "secret," cited Hutchison in 1999 as a potential risk for smuggling arms and other prohibited materials into the United States from the Bahamas.

Hutchison's port operations in the Bahamas and Panama "could provide a conduit for illegal shipments of technology or prohibited items from the West to the PRC (People's Republic of China), or facilitate the movement of arms and other prohibited items into the Americas," the now-declassified assessment said.
1999. The same year we cite that the UAE was playing footsie with al Qaeda. Of course, for those who like to cite that, the fact that we have pictures of Madeline Albright and Don Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein doesn't seem to register. Things change. After 2001 we weren't shaking Saddam's hand and they weren't playing footsie with al Qaeda.

But that was enough to stop the port deal, regardless of what they've done since 9/11. If 'security' (not to mention consistency) is really the reason for doing so, then the potential for smuggling technology and arms to and from China should be enough to stop this one, wouldn't you say?
 
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This story is getting NO attention. It should be the top headline everywhere! What’s going on here here?
Did the Dubai thing scare all the politicians and news people
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Considering the nature of the current threat facing the US, I’m not sure that China falls into the same ballpark as nations connected to Al Qaeda. The company doesn’t appear to have any links to Al Qaeda, and the CIA has "no security concerns about Hutchison’s port operations". I’m just not sure what the proposed threat might be.

Moreover, this port belongs to a foreign country. I’m not sure that it’s really our place to veto it.

Finally, it’s not quite accurate that "no one from the US" will even be involved...
Supervised by Bahamian customs officials, Hutchison employees will drive the towering, truck-like radiation scanner that moves slowly over large cargo containers and scans them for radiation that might be emitted by plutonium or a radiological weapon.

Any positive reading would set off alarms monitored simultaneously by Bahamian customs inspectors at Freeport and by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials working at an anti-terrorism center 800 miles away in northern Virginia. Any alarm would prompt a closer inspection of the cargo, and there are multiple layers of security to prevent tampering, officials said.
I think there are legitimate security concerns with a deal like this, too, though I don’t find them ultimately persuasive.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Big deal. Hutchinson Whampoa owns port terminals in 54 countries. And don’t forget that the all important Panama Canal was sold to the Chinese way back when.

Being listed a potential risk by US military intelligence doesn’t really lend any credibility and you certainly don’t see that kind of report now.

 
Written By: Piusz
URL: http://
Considering the nature of the current threat facing the US, I’m not sure that China falls into the same ballpark as nations connected to Al Qaeda.
Security isn’t all about al Qadea. And not all threats to our security come in the form of violent actions against our citizens.

AQ is not nor has it ever been the only threat to the US.

Consistency would argue that if we find companies tied, however tenuously, to governments we consider to be possible or probable threats to do harm or to attempt to breach our security to steal technology, etc, we take steps to prevent that possiblity.

That’s if security is the reason for nixing the Dubai deal.
Being listed a potential risk by US military intelligence doesn’t really lend any credibility and you certainly don’t see that kind of report now.
Right ... but that potential risk cited by intelligence certainly lent enough credibility to derail Dubai, didn’t it?

As you may not have figured out, I don’t have a problem with either of the deals. I’m simply asking those who thought that derailing the Dubai deal was a good idea why derailing this one isn’t?

I mean if "security" is really what concerned us with the Dubai deal, then "security" should be of equal concern here.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net
AQ is not nor has it ever been the only threat to the US.
China hasn’t posed much of a threat to the US, either. But Al Qaeda is a clear and present enemy. China is neither.

(plus, all the other stuff I wrote)
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Al Qaeda is a clear and present enemy. China is neither.
That is a strawman, Jon. The ports deal was not with AQ but with the UAE. Now, even if we assume some sort of AQ-UAE relationship (and that has not been conclusively shown, IMHO) AND that it has bearing on that consideration well, what about China’s relationship with NoKo? There is no debating their hostile sentiments toward us. Kim is definitely getting material, political and moral support from the ChiComs and has been for a long time, even during the current crisis. Accordingly, we should definitely be registering our unease with a ChiCom-affiliated company managing ports of strategic importance to us.
 
Written By: D
URL: http://
Now, even if we assume some sort of AQ-UAE relationship (and that has not been conclusively shown, IMHO) AND that it has bearing on that consideration well, what about China’s relationship with NoKo?
I agree that it hasn’t been conclusively shown, but it’s been noted sufficiently to constitute at least a legitimate concern. One can certainly have reasonable concerns about Chinese ownership in this circumstance, too, but having legitimate concerns about the UAE lease of a US terminal does not require one to have those same concerns about Chinese responsibility for Bahamanian port security.

Plus, you know, it’s not our port.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
having legitimate concerns about the UAE lease of a US terminal does not require one to have those same concerns about Chinese responsibility for Bahamanian port security.
Now you’re really driving me mad!...

Seriously, we’re not talking about requirements, legal or otherwise. However, we are talking about circumstances that carry some reasonably parallel facts. Call it moral equivalence if you like but, in my mind, and McQ’s probably as well, the UAE and China ports deal controversies do carry far too many parallels to simply dismiss because they are not perfectly congruent.
Plus, you know, it’s not our port.
True, it isn’t. Nevertheless, it is a port of strategic importance to us and, potentially, to unfriendly states in our near-abroad [koff]Venezuela, Cuba[/hack,gag]. While the US may not have legal remedies at our disposal that should not prevent us from registering our displeasure...assuming we have any.
 
Written By: D
URL: http://
Seriously, we’re not talking about requirements, legal or otherwise.
No, my comments — and I was not clear enough on this — referred back to McQs previous argument that the UAE criticism revealed anti-Arab "prejudice".

I’ve no doubt that anti-Arab prejudice exists, but there were more than enough legitimate concerns about the UAE deal that one need not impute anti-Arab "prejudice" to the critics. That’s the kind of race card that we on the right usually find so demeaning to serious debate when the left trots it out.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://www.QandO.net
[T]here were more than enough legitimate concerns about the UAE deal that one need not impute anti-Arab "prejudice" to the critics.
Yes, and those "legitimate concerns" lose much of their legitimacy when, in an analogous situation, they are no longer concerns. It strongly suggests to me that those "legitimate concerns" served as an all-to-convenient cover for other motives; anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiment being the most obvious culprit but by no means the only one.

For me, personally, I sensed far too much wink-wink nudge-nudge say-no-mo-say-no-mo[/Monty_Python] from those politicos and pundits who hammered the "security" angle with wild abandon.
 
Written By: D
URL: http://
Considering the nature of the current threat facing the US, I’m not sure that China falls into the same ballpark as nations connected to Al Qaeda.


Agreed, after all, China has NUKES pointed at us. And truth be told, China is waging a much more active (though lower-key) campaign against us now, wider in scope and implications that AQ ever could dream of...
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
First of all, the company already runs the damn port in the Bahamas. It makes sense for the Bahamas to hire the same company to operate the truck. Yep. Basically this fuss is all over who drives the truck, because the signals are sent to the USA and the Bahamas customs offices...not to China.

I also suspect that the company hires locals and does not fly in truck drivers from China. Just a hunch, though.

Even if we had staff there, would we want to send a truck driver over? Or more than one considering that it probably operates 24/7. And their families. And a supervisor. The cost would be high, and we would need this for every port in the world.

Maybe we should have only Americans loading the containers at the factories in China, just to be absolutely safe.

At some point in the supply chain, you have to trust foreigners and companies, and perhaps even foreign companies.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Oops. Sorry. Didn’t fully read the story. My Bad.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
If we truly want to insulate ourselves, we will simply have to use a bunch of US controlled islands in the Pacific, Atlantic and Caribean as customs checkpoints where cargo is moved off foreign ships, screened, and then transferred onto US bound vessels by Americans. No foreign cargo vessel will be allowed to dock at a mainland port. Can we do this? I don’t know. But if we can, it will add considerably to shipping costs. And we would have to do something with air cargo...
 
Written By: ATM
URL: http://

 
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