- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 29, 2003


U.S. inspectors will screen U.S.-bound cargo containers before they leave Chinese ports at Shanghai and Shenzhen.

Under the agreement signed yesterday in Beijing, small teams of U.S. Customs inspectors will work with Chinese officers to target and screen sea containers destined for the United States.

The agreement is part of the Homeland Security Department’s Container Security Initiative, which aims to prevent terrorists from smuggling nuclear and other weapons into the United States.

“This agreement with the People’s Republic of China is important for our efforts to protect not only the U.S., but also our global system of trade,” said Robert Bonner, commissioner of the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection.

Mr. Bonner signed the agreement with China’s customs commissioner, Mu Xinsheng. The terms were reached last October when China’s former president, Jiang Zemin, visited President Bush in Crawford, Texas.

With the addition of the two Chinese ports, 19 of the world’s top 20 ports have agreed to join the U.S. initiative, which was developed after the September 11, 2001, attacks.

U.S. inspectors are already working under the initiative at 15 ports, including Antwerp, Belgium; Genoa, Italy; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Hamburg, Germany; Hong Kong; Montreal; Singapore; Vancouver; and Yokohama, Japan.

Seven million trailer-truck-size containers are unloaded at U.S. ports each year and about 68 percent come from ports staffed by U.S. inspectors.

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge announced last month that the container initiative would be expanded to ports in an additional 20 to 25 countries, including Dubai, Malaysia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

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