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Home / News / Local / Chinese company could own part of Kansas City International Airport
Boarding ramp nestled up to a jet at Kansas City International Airport. Photo: KCI.

Chinese company could own part of Kansas City International Airport

A Communist Chinese-owned company could take over passenger boarding bridges at the Kansas City International Airport. The move concerns Missouri and Kansas U.S. Senate and Congressional leaders and they’re urging the Kansas City Aviation Department to reject the proposal.

The company, CIMC-Tianda, has previously been found guilty of stealing information from a U.S. company that manufactures airplane boarding bridges. Across the nation, and now in Kansas City, it’s pushing into the airport market with enticing offers that some Covid-stricken municipality budgets find hard to turn down.

U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) joined his colleagues in Missouri and Kansas, releasing a stern warning to the Kansas City Aviation Department over a Chinese sale. The letter asks the taxpayer-funded department to reject any proposed sale of passenger boarding bridges at the current or new airport  to the company CIMC-Tianda. Tianda is a partly owned by the Communist Chinese regime.

The lawmakers warn that CIMC-Tianda’s passenger bridges may allow the Chinese government to access the personal data of airport employees or to disrupt communications between ground control and aircraft.

READ: Communist China controls 80% of American drugs

In 1998, CIMC-Tianda was found guilty by a U.S. district court in Houston of stealing the intellectual property of Jetway Systems, which builds the enclosed “jet bridges” that allow passengers to board airplanes. It was proven that the company used what it learned to undercut Jetway in contract bids.

Since then, however, the company has become a force in the international airport equipment market, particularly across the pacific region.

The 1998 court order prohibited it from selling designs other than its own for 10 years but after the company reorganized under a new name in the U.S., it has quietly begun bidding on airport projects in Orlando, Dallas, Boston and Miami.

POLITICO reported over the summer that the company is using a small U.S.-based company as a “proxy bidder” to fly under the radar.

The letter was signed by Senators Hawley and Jerry Moran of Kansas, plus Congressional representatives Vicki Hartzler and Sam Graves of Missouri and Ron Estes and Roger Marshall of Kansas.

 

The letter reads, “This poses a serious risk to American national security. The Chinese government has long used state-backed enterprises like CIMC-Tianda to advance its strategic interests. Beijing also recognizes the critical role U.S. transportation infrastructure – including our airports – plays not just in our citizens’ lives, but also in the functioning of our economy and, in times of crisis, the mobilization of our nation’s resources to protect American citizens. That is why Beijing has repeatedly targeted that infrastructure for disruption or interference using cyber and other means.”

CIMC-Tianda has a long history of illegal activity in the U.S., including industrial espionage, and was previously banned from selling passenger bridges by a U.S. district court in Houston.

Senator Hawley was joined by Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Reps. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), Ron Estes (R-Kan.), Sam Graves (R-Mo.), and Roger Marshall (R-Kan.).

Read the full letter here or below.

October 30, 2020

Patrick Klein
Director of Aviation
Kansas City Aviation Department
601 Brasilia Avenu
Kansas City, MO 64153

Dear Mr. Klein:

We understand the Kansas City International Airport (KCI) has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to purchase passenger boarding bridges. We understand as well that CIMC-Tianda, a Chinese state-backed enterprise, may respond to that RFP. We urge you to reject any proposal from CIMC-Tianda in order to prevent the Chinese government from harming our nation’s aviation infrastructure and those who rely on it.

CIMC-Tianda has a long history of illegal activity in the United States. In 1998, a U.S. district court in Houston found the company guilty of industrial espionage and subsequently prohibited it from selling passenger bridges not of its own independent design until 2006. That prohibition has expired, however, and CIMC-Tianda is now trying to underbid competitors and reenter the American passenger bridge market.

This poses a serious risk to American national security. The Chinese government has long used state-backed enterprises like CIMC-Tianda to advance its strategic interests. Beijing also recognizes the critical role U.S. transportation infrastructure – including our airports – plays not just in our citizens’ lives, but also in the functioning of our economy and, in times of crisis, the mobilization of our nation’s resources to protect American citizens. That is why Beijing has repeatedly targeted that infrastructure for disruption or interference using cyber and other means.

With regard to KCI specifically, purchasing CIMC-Tianda passenger bridges could significantly enhance the Chinese government’s ability to harm Missourians, Kansans, and the nation, more broadly, by interfering with KCI’s operations. That is because new passenger bridges like those sold by CIMC-Tianda can be integrated with and potentially used to access a variety of critical systems. Chinese cyber operators might, for instance, be able to use access points provided by CIMC-Tianda bridges to steal financial and other sensitive records, including airport employees’ or others’ personal data, trigger airport alarms, or even disrupt links between ground control stations and the aircraft – and passengers – who depend on them.

Congress has already responded to Chinese threats to American transportation infrastructure by prohibiting the use of federal transit funds to purchase vehicles from Chinese state-owned and other state-supported companies. Congress is currently considering additional measures, including legislation prohibiting Chinese state-backed enterprises that have been found guilty of intellectual property theft from competing for Aircraft Improvement Program-funded projects.

We hope you will consider the risks described above and support efforts by Congress and others to protect Missourians, Kansans, and their fellow Americans from the threats posed by CIMC- Tianda, including by rejecting any proposal by CIMC-Tianda to sell passenger bridges to KCI.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,
Josh Hawley
United States Senator

Jerry Moran
United States Senator

Vicki Hartzler
Member of Congress  

Ron Estes
Member of Congress

Sam Graves
Member of Congress  

Roger Marshall, M.D.
Member of Congress

 

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice

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