Deceitful Chinese bid for Oakland Bay Bridge hurts California

Posted by Anonymous on 07/18/2011

Just when we thought that the saga of new made-in-China Oakland Bay Bridge couldn’t get any worse, we were proven wrong. New evidence suggests there were major flaws in the rationale for outsourcing the project to China—and estimates of the jobs this project is taking away from Americans and the pollution it’s contributing to the environment  have added insult to injury in this discouraging tale.

Though the New York Times originally cited American suppliers’ inability to perform work on such a large scale structure as the main reason behind the state of California’s decision to outsource the project to China, according to Foreign Policy’s, Clyde Prestowitz, this was not actually the case. “It turns out that the issue wasn't one of capability but of scheduling,” reports Prestowitz. “U.S. fabricators had the capacity and the capability to do the work but argued that the project would take more time than the Chinese were proposing in their bid.”

And so the state turned the project over to China, only to be subjected to one nightmare after another at the hands of their duplicitous overseas business partner. For one, the timeframe that the Chinese fabricators provided—the one that won them the expansive contract in the first—turned out to be completely unrealistic. According to Presotwitz:

“[The] Chinese have not been able to meet their own timetable, and the bridge is actually being built on the schedule originally proposed by the American fabricators. The first delivery of Chinese steel was more than a year late and the whole project is three years behind schedule and $5.2 billion over budget according to information provided by the National Steel Bridge Alliance…. So it looks like the Chinese low-balled their proposal in order to get the bid and then more than ate up the presumed savings by failing to meet their own timetable.”

Given China’s history of cheating to gain an advantage over American manufacturers, we’re not shocked that California fell victim to yet another scheme cooked up the behind the red curtain. What we are shocked about is that there hasn’t been more of a public backlash against what this decision has meant for state—namely the loss of thousands of potential manufacturing jobs in a state with an unemployment rate of 11.7%--2.5% higher than the national average:

“By proceeding with the project as it did, California exported more than 2,500 manufacturing jobs to China and then added insult to injury by spending taxpayer dollars to send 250 public and private workers to China to provide training. In effect, at a time of economic hardship and rising unemployment in the United States, the state of California provided funding and training to create jobs and make workers more competitive in China.”

In addition to racking up a colossal bill for the state of California, this project is creating a carbon footprint that completely defies the state’s reputation as a leader in environmental standards:

“The steel producers and fabricators in China don't even come close to meeting California's own green environmental standards… the bridge deal is shifting production from relatively green U.S. producers operating under California's tough environmental standards to brown Chinese producers whose work on the bridge is adding to the pollution of California air. In effect, the state is conniving to violate its own environmental standards in order to achieve savings that were never realistic and that have not only evaporated but become cost overruns.”

According to a A 2009 AAM report on China’s rapidly growing steel industry, China’s low standards and lax enforcement have not only contributed to global pollution, they have also enabled Chinese steel companies to enjoy unfair advantages over U.S. companies that operate under the strict pollution-control standards that keep our air safe. China derives great economic benefits from its failure to control pollution, giving it a significant advantage over its foreign competitors.

So there you have it—the latest installment in the story of California’s disastrous decision to outsource the construction of the Oakland bay bridge to Chinese contractors. We hope this serves as a cautionary to other states that are in the process of planning major infrastructure projects, and reiterates the importance of Keeping it Made in America.

5 comments

Anonymous wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

I don't want to die on that bridge

Between 2011 and 2013 there have been 12 BRIDGE FAILURES that have resulted in over 180 deaths and who knows how many injuries. This is opposed to the 7 bridge failures in the United States with only 1 that resulted in 13 dead. The fact that a company FROM CHINA WITH NO BRIDGE EXPERIENCE (a crane making company) is who California chose over us, I can't help but cry. (sorry, I am a chick!) Not only am I crying as I watch the school where I teach go through endless cutbacks that only spell future doom for our state, I am now scared to death to cross the bridge that lies between my work and my home. This is unbelievable. I read that in China they executed an official for taking bribes. Since we are so in love with China now, may I suggest we execute those who took the bribes that landed us where we are today. The company that gave us the steel is the same company that has been indicted for bribes by our own Department of Justice (China Harbour is the precursor to China Communications Construction Corporation, the parent to Zhenhou, crane maker and now bridge maker.

"US government attorneys are seeking to recover US$1.76 million (HK$13.6 million) they say China Harbour paid in bribes to Arafat "Koko" Rahman, the youngest son of former Bangladesh prime minister Khaleda Zia. Rahman allegedly squirreled the money away in Singapore bank accounts."

When is the DOJ going to investigate what happened here? How Schwarzenegger went on a trip to China and then came back and lo and behold with awesomely cheap bids from China!

"Nonetheless, Schwarzenegger and his administration began actively courting foreign bidders. In 2005, Schwarzenegger traveled to China on a trade mission. During the visit, state transportation secretary Sunne Wright McPeak ceremonially presented officials with a set of CDs including bidding specifications for the Bay Bridge project."

(Interesting side note, Gray Davis had lobbied and secured federal funding which of course would have kept the project US made. Why is the general population so gullible as to replace him with the terminator? Probably the erosion of the public school system.)

12 BRIDGE FAILURES IN 3 YEARS.... (or from this report - A total of 157 bridge collapses, not including the ones caused by earthquake, were collected from the public media report in China from January 2000 to March 2012. Read More: http://ascelibrary.org/doi/abs/10.1061/9780784412640.009) Check out the pictures, read the amusing excuses the Chinese come up with for why their bridges fail. In particular take note of the bridge made of trash, literally. And ask yourself if you think Chinese engineers are idiots, or if it's the materials they use. Sure, our bridge may be being assembled by Americans, but isn't there only so much you can do with crap?

Anonymous wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

Oakland Bay Bridge

Every one needs to under stand why this project and others is a Back stabbing treadorurs act that forces Californians to go it alone!
Every gallon of gasoline we buy has both federal and state road taxes for the purpose of building and maintance of our roads! Because of the Buy American statutes in the federal reregister Caltrans could not ask for the federal matching funds you and I have paid for! Add to that “Not in the public Interest” and “American workers can not do the Job”. Are you kidding me? There was a time when we Hung traders’ in this country. Guess that not in the public interest either.
Wake up America this is your job they are kicking to the curb!

Del Crawford San Jose

Anonymous wrote 2 years 27 weeks ago

Free Trade?

So called, "free trade" hurts America, and more importantly the american worker. What we really need is FAIR trade.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 39 weeks ago

free trade

free trade can make us all benefited

scapozzola wrote 2 years 39 weeks ago

"Free trade"

-If only there were such a thing as "free trade." It's hard to have any semblance of an open market when China distorts the global market with currency manipulation, dumping, and subsidies that violate WTO rules. If China weren't so protectionist, maybe we could move toward some kind of free trade...

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