by WorldTribune Staff, December 18, 2022
Is there reason to be concerned that a group with close ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is acquiring farmland near a key U.S. Air Force base in North Dakota?
The purchase by China’s Fufeng Group of 300 acres of land about 12.5 miles from the Grand Forks Air Force Base took a step forward this week when the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) said it would not oppose the deal.
“The Chinese Communist Party should not be allowed to purchase land near our military bases,” Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said. “It is dangerous and dumb.”
Grand Forks Air Force Base is home to top secret U.S. drone technology and houses assets such as Northrop Grumman’s RQ-4 Global Hawk.
CFIUS is an inter-agency committee of the U.S. government that reviews the national security implications of foreign investments in American companies or operations.
“Congress mandated that CFIUS protect America’s national security and that should be its first priority, not making it easier for Chinese businesses with ties to Beijing to operate in the United States,” Rubio said.
The CFIUS said it would not block the transaction because it does not fall under CFIUS’s jurisdiction.
In a statement, Fufeng USA it is “looking forward to building a wet-corn milling and biofermentation plant in Grand Forks.”
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, the contractor responsible for developing unmanned aircraft systems at the Grand Forks base, was critical of the CFIUS’s decision not to oppose the purchase, saying the land could offer China an opportunity for sophisticated military espionage.
North Dakota Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer, who said he will receive a classified briefing on the CFIUS decision next week, noted: “The CEO of Fufeng is in fact a very active member of the CCP and he’s received high recognition for being a model [laborer].”
Fufeng Group CEO Li Xuechun was elected to the Shandong People’s Congress in 2003. The entity “is essentially quote unquote a state legislature which is basically a rubber stamp for the National People’s Congress of the Chinese Communist Party,” noted Ross Kennedy, founder of Fortis Analysis and Senior Fellow at Securities Studies Group, who described the proposed project as a “very worrisome thing.”
“Even the people local to Grand Forks may not know how important this base is, ” Kennedy said. “It’s not some no-nothing base that has survived all the base closures and realignments over the years. Grand Forks is home to one of the largest intelligence and surveillance and reconnaissance wings we have anywhere in the world. I can’t think of a lot of red-blooded Americans that would be okay with their town being used potentially as an installation to monitor the comings and goings of an air force base.”