China’s State-Owned CRRC is Trying to Convince Everyone It is Totally Legit

By Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch
Sep 18 2019 |

The Rail Security Alliance took red ink to those claims.

Momentum is building in the fight to make sure China’s state-owned, controlled and subsidized companies are banned from receiving taxpayer dollars to build U.S. rail cars and buses.

We’ve written about this effort extensively; here’s a video primer in case you need the basics.

Now it looks like at least one of China’s state-owned companies is getting nervous, because it has launched a pretty obvious P.R. effort to fashion itself as a friendly player and supporter of American manufacturing.

Why, it even has a website! And a Twitter handle!

This is our favorite tweet, by the way. Just look at those American-made rail cars… built, shrink-wrapped and shipped to CRRC’s assembly plant in Massachusetts from China.

Anyway, the company doing all this branding work is the China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC), which is the largest rolling stock manufacturer in the world. CRRC is also state-owned, run by the Chinese government and a key part of its “Made in China 2025” plan to dominate global industry.

There are significant national security concerns about CRRC’s role in building American transit like rail cars, which is why Congress is moving to ban the company and others owned or controlled by the Chinese government from receiving future taxpayer-funded contracts.

That would be a big blow to China’s plans of taking over rail car manufacturing, so it isn’t a big surprise CRRC is now fighting back. But of course, China can’t outright say it wants to dominate industry. Instead, it has to get creative.

Exhibit A: It put out a fact sheet!

That fact sheet claims to highlight all the great work CRRC is doing to support the U.S. transportation supply chain via its facility in Massachusetts, where it conducts final assembly of rail cars it is building for the MBTA.

And you know what? Someone who doesn’t follow this issue as closely as we do might just buy it.

But the Rail Security Alliance (RSA) follows this issue really closely, and they aren’t having it.

RSA took some red ink to the CRRC infographic, pointing out all of the distortions and downright lies they found. As RSA tweeted: “Supply chains matter … kinda like facts. When you’re talking about a foreign state-owned enterprise like #CRRCMA, they matter even more.”

Check out the infographic:

One of the things RSA highlights is that the original CRRC infographic includes lots of items that it says are “supplied by” or “provided by” American companies. But those terms are not the same as being “manufactured” in the United States, making it unclear just how much of the U.S. supply chain CRRC is actually supporting.

And RSA even points out that CRRC lists Amixter Electrical as a supplier of electrical components, which is very fishy.

“Amixter Electrical looks like it has a pretty big presence in China,” RSA writes. “How many other Chinese suppliers is CRRC trying to falsely pass off as being based in the U.S.?”

RSA’s main point is that CRRC does the bare minimum assembly work at its Massachusetts facility to in order to comply with Buy American guidelines (if that). But in actuality, most of the work is done in China (see that tweet above).

“Yes, let’s talk about those car shells: 100% made in China and shipped to U.S. ports for assembly, confirming a basic fact: CRRC MA does NOT manufacture in the U.S.,” RSA writes. “CRRC’s claims about ‘complying with’ Buy American rules look good on paper — but that’s it.”

CRRC is trying very, very hard to convince everyone that is a legitimate company with nothing but good intentions. And it has created 150 or so jobs for the people doing the final assembly work on those train cars in Massachusetts.   

But let’s face facts: There are 90,000 good-paying jobs up-and-down the U.S. transportation supply chain that are threatened because of China’s plans to dominate global industry. CRRC is NOT like other companies — it is owned and controlled by China’s government. It’s not out to make money; rather, it is working to further the goals of the Chinese state.

And on top of all this, there are legitimate national security risks that come from allowing China to build our transit systems like rail cars (and buses).

Like RSA, we aren’t buying what CRRC is trying to sell with its fancy PR campaign; we're guessing unions like the Teamsters and America's military leaders also aren't convinced.

Now we just have to make sure Congress doesn't buy into CRRC's nonsense, either.