Schumer Asks Government to Probe Rail Tech From China

May 20, 2019 Updated: May 20, 2019

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer is asking the federal government to investigate if a plan for new subway cars in New York City, designed by a Chinese state-owned firm, could pose a threat to national security.

The move comes after China’s CRRC Corp, the world’s top passenger train maker, was slammed by U.S. lawmakers during a hearing on May 16 to limit its access to U.S. projects amid security fears.

Chinese companies could intercept U.S. rail control systems and compromise the safety of regular Americans, one former U.S. official warned.

It also comes at a time when the Trump administration has added China’s Huawei Technologies to a trade blacklist, citing security risks as the world’s two largest economies ratchet up tariffs in a battle over what U.S. officials call China’s unfair trade practices.

CRRC, the Chinese state-owned company, which won a design contest for new subway cars, plans to install new technology in the New York subway system and government agencies must determine whether this poses any threat to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and its commuters, Schumer said in a statement to Reuters.

“Given what we know about how cyberwarfare works, and recent attacks that have hit transportation and infrastructure hubs across the country, the Department of Commerce must … thoroughly check any proposals or work China’s CRRC does on behalf of the New York subway system, including our signals, Wi-Fi and more,” Schumer added.

The company has not won a contract in New York City, which has America’s biggest transit system. However, it has won contracts for new subway cars in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia.

CRRC has also launched a charm campaign in the United States as it seeks to secure a Washington D.C. metro car contract worth over $500 million, after roaring into the American passenger rail market by dramatically underbidding foreign rivals.

Concerns CRRC could soon set its sights on the much more lucrative U.S. freight market and use its railcars to spy on passengers have prompted a series of legislative proposals.

H.R. 2739, titled the Transportation Infrastructure Vehicle Security Act, would prevent federal transit money from being granted to local transit agencies to procure passenger rail cars or transit buses made by Chinese state-owned, -controlled, or -subsidized enterprises, according to a press release from Rep. Harley Rouda’s (R-Calif.) office.

By Nandita Bose. The Epoch Times contributed to this report.