A Little Refresher on The Concerns about CRRC and Federal Contracts

By Matthew McMullan
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Why are we rewarding China’s state-owned enterprises with government business?

Last week MassLive reported the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) had taken all of its newly purchased CRRC MA railcars offline because a door on one of em opened while the train was in transit. 

Can’t knock MBTA’s hustle. It was only one door that opened and no one was injured, but they’re doing it out of an abundance of caution.

According to Railway Age, those doors came from a supplier with plants in Mexico and upstate New York. CRRC MA built its assembly facility in Springfield in western Massachusetts in order to comply with the contract requirements laid out by the state, and the rail cars it produces are made to adhere to Buy America requirements (though some question that) if its to qualify for federal funding.

But still, the fundamental question about it remains: Should a Chinese state-owned enterprise be given access to transit contracts that are paid, even in part, with federal tax dollars?

It’s a legitimate question, and we think the answer is still, well, no:

While it’s good that CRRC adhered to conditions set by the state and built a factory in Springfield to get that contract, and it’s obviously good for these workers in New England to have steady work building rail cars, the environment in which CRRC landed this business is concerning. That was a problem bred in Washington: A lack of steady federal infrastructure investment that encourages them to consider price tags first. When you’re robbing Peter to pay Paul, you aren’t considering the long-term problem created by weakening the domestic manufacturing ecosystem that supports thousands of American jobs.

Here's the two big reasons why these kinda companies shouldn't get these kinda contracts:

1. CRRC MA, a state-owned enterprise from China, is landing these contracts because it severely underbids its competition — companies that aren't heavily subsidized by the Chinese government.

2. There are significant security concerns associated with allowing an aggressive economic competitor to supply the transportation infrastructure that makes up the circuitry of our major cities.

You can tell your legislators to do something about it by supporting a strong version of the Transit Infrastructure Vehicle Security Act.