States take lead in fighting China’s buying U.S. farmland, often near strategic sites

FPI / April 6, 2023


The communist government in Beijing has for at least two decades been trying to buy real estate near U.S. national security installations, analysts say.

Marshall Billingslea, a former assistant secretary at the Treasury Department, which is in charge of monitoring foreign land transactions, said the real estate was largely farmland situated near naval air stations, submarine bases, and other military sites.

Employees of the Fufeng Group which sought to build a large corn-milling plant near Grand Forks Air Force Base.

The Chinese have also bought office buildings in New York near the offices of sensitive law enforcement operations.

“China is also now trying to buy up U.S. farmland to get a chokehold on our agricultural production,” Billingslea said. “Congress urgently needs to enact a prohibition on land purchases in the U.S. by Chinese entities.”

The Pentagon has said the main concern about Chinese civilian entities operating near sensitive U.S. sites is China’s 2015 national security decree that requires all Chinese companies to cooperate with intelligence and security services.

“The mandate has complicated efforts by Chinese-owned companies such as Huawei and TikTok from operating in the U.S. and many allied countries,” security correspondent Bill Gertz noted in a Washington Times report.

The Biden administration has done little to alleviate the problem, critics say.

“Last year, Congress debated legislation regarding foreign purchases of U.S. land but passed only minor measures requiring improved reporting by the Agriculture Department,” Gertz noted. “The federal government has no legal restrictions on the amount of private U.S. agricultural land that can be foreign-owned.”

Texas, Florida, Arkansas and eleven other states have passed laws aimed at banning Chinese citizens from buying up land in their states.

Along with Texas, Florida, and Arkansas, states which prohibit or restrict foreign ownership of private agricultural land includes: Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

In Missouri, current law limits foreign ownership of farmland. Pending legislation would lower the limit on foreign ownership of state farmland from 1% to 0.5% and ban further investment by China, Iran, North Korea, Russia and Venezuela beginning in late August.

The most recent example of a Chinese government-linked effort to buy an agricultural facility near a sensitive Air Force base in North Dakota was shut down in January.

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