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Espionage: South Korea to inspect all port cranes bought from China

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The South Korean government is planning to inspect every port crane supplied by China. This is because the U.S. government recently pointed out that cranes built by Shanghai Zhenhua Port Machinery Company (ZPMC) may be used for espionage purposes.

At present, a total of 478 Chinese port cranes are in operation in South Korea along with 389 domestically produced ones.

According to the U.S. government, Chinese cranes at U.S. ports are capable of accessing military secrets such as military supply transport information with their software and sensors.

The U.S. government said it is closely monitoring state-run ZPMC in particular, the global market share of which is 70 per cent.

Approximately 80 per cent of U.S. port cranes are ZPMC cranes. The company said in 2017 that it could monitor each of its cranes from its Shanghai headquarters.

In South Korea, a total of 876 port cranes are in operation, including 427 ZPMC cranes. These include 298 in Busan, its largest trade port, and 21 in Pyeongtaek and Dangjin, where U.S. military supplies arrive.

The South Korean government is planning to accelerate import replacement, too. South Korean port crane suppliers’ global market share dropped from 8.1 per cent to 3.9 per cent from 2003 to 2008 and has been close to zero since 2013.

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