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MarAd Issues Advisory Regarding Chinese Logistics Systems


The U.S. Maritime Administration (MarAd) issued a global maritime alert on August 23 regarding possible vulnerabilities regarding equipment and operations utilizing cranes, scanners and logistics systems linked to the People’s Republic of China.

U.S. Maritime Advisory 2023-009 states, “Foreign companies manufacture, install and maintain port equipment that poses vulnerabilities to global maritime infrastructure information technology and operational technology systems.”

The MarAd advisory goes on to say, “In the past few years, the U.S. Government has published several documents illuminating the risks associated with integrating and utilizing the People’s Republic of China’s state-supported National Information Platform for Transportation and Logistics (LOGINK), Nuctech scanners and automated port cranes worldwide.”

Last month, the MTD posted a story on its website regarding the possible challenges that could befall the U.S.-flag maritime industry and the U.S. military involving the LOGINK logistics system. The story quoted the Baker Institute of Rice University: “LOGINK offers Beijing [China’s capital] a means to monitor and shape the international logistics market, increase foreign strategic dependency on China, and exploit the vulnerabilities of LOGINK users for economic and geostrategic purposes.”

The advisory further notes, “At least 24 global ports have cooperation agreements with LOGINK, which has the ability to collect massive amounts of sensitive business and foreign government data, such as corporate registries and vessel and cargo data. The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) recently identified this ability as a threat to the United States and reported that the Chinese Communist Party plans to use LOGINK to strengthen its influence over international maritime trade and port infrastructure.

“LOGINK’s installation and utilization in critical port infrastructure very likely provides [China] access to and/or collection of sensitive logistics data,” the advisory adds.

USCC Commissioner Michael Wessel said in July that the Chinese offer LOGINK “to be a one-stop-shop replacing many of the functions of third-party logistics providers,” but the companies/facilities “have to adopt Chinese standards.”

The MTD reported last month that the U.S. ports of Boston, Baltimore, Norfolk, Charleston, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland and Seattle use Chinese-built cranes.

The MarAd advisory calls out the Nuctech Company, Ltd. as a Chinese “state-owned enterprise that manufactures and fields data-centric partially state-owned security inspection equipment at key logistic nodes worldwide.” Such equipment includes “x-ray, backscatter and thermal platforms; explosive detection; non-intrusive products (e.g., baggage and parcel inspection); Artificial Intelligence; as well as facial cognition/recognition capabilities.”

Additionally, “Nuctech equipment access includes biometric information, personally identifiable information,… cargo information, proprietary data and geo-locational metadata. The United States added Nuctech to the Department of Commerce’s Entity List for its involvement in activities that are contrary to the national security interests of the United States.”

As the MTD reported earlier, “For U.S. mariners being tracked by a foreign country brings visions of the First and Second World Wars when German U-Boats indiscriminately sunk our vessels,” MTD (and Seafarers Union) President David Heindel recalled. “These logistics systems could allow for precise targets. Congress must act appropriately and swiftly to address this potential threat,” added Heindel.

“These threats aren’t part of some science fiction plot. They are real,” Wessel declared. “America must respond.”

The complete advisory appears here: Maritime Advisory 2023-009.


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