Bipartisan bill would restrict purchases of airport equipment from Chinese companies
Lawmakers on Monday introduced bipartisan legislation that would prohibit the use of federal funds to purchase airport equipment made in countries that may pose a national security threat to the United States, such as China.
The Airport Infrastructure Resources Security Act would apply to purchases of passenger boarding bridges and other infrastructure from countries deemed by federal officials to pose a national security threat, and those involved in stealing U.S. intellectual property (IP).
Rep. Ron Wright (R-Texas), who introduced the bill alongside Rep. Marc Veasey (D-Texas), pointed to China as a major threat, particularly amid increased tensions over the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Make no mistake, the CCP will stop at nothing to gain power and control,” Wright said in a statement. “We cannot afford to give them inroads to our most critical systems.”
Veasey said in a separate statement that he hoped the legislation would lead to an influx of jobs through the exclusion of foreign companies from countries involved in intellectual property theft.
“As we emerge from the tragedy of the COVID-19 pandemic, one way to help rebuild the economy and get Americans back to work is by rebuilding our infrastructure,” Veasey said. “However, it is important that as we make these investments we are not rewarding foreign state-owned enterprises who have a history of IP violations.”
Other House sponsors of the bill include GOP Reps. Mike Waltz (Fla.), Ross Spano (Fla.), Mario Diaz-Balart (Fla.) and Lance Gooden (Texas).
The supporters pointed to specific concerns over Chinese-owned company CIMC-Tianda, which manufactures passenger boarding bridges.
The company was previously found guilty of industrial espionage by a U.S. federal court. Worries about the use of the company’s products at Miami International Airport were raised in 2019 by a group of Republican lawmakers, including Diaz-Balart.
Both Congress and the Trump administration have moved to push out Chinese telecom groups Huawei and ZTE from U.S. networks, while similar security concerns have been raised over the security of the popular video platform TikTok.