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China’s Land Purchases in US Spark Outcry for Federal Solution

Posted on Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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by Outside Contributor
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Over the past two years, nearly half the states in America acted to scrutinize purchases of land linked to China and other foreign adversaries. Concerns focus primarily on national security threats from China, and they’re well-founded.

The federal government has no idea how much real estate Chinese entities own in the United States. The U.S. Department of Agriculture legally is required to track foreign ownership of agricultural land, but underestimates Chinese ownership by at least 50%.

And even though Chinese investments in the U.S. are decreasing overall, China’s purchases of American real estate have grown. What’s more, federal national security capabilities intended to scrutinize these purchases repeatedly have failed to address even the most glaring threats.

The U.S. government approved the Chinese purchase of Smithfield Foods, the largest U.S. pork producer, which included tens of thousands of acres of farmland.

The government also approved the purchase of tens of thousands of acres in Texas by a former Chinese military officer for a commercially dubious project near a U.S. Air Force base and Texas’ power grid. Texas legislators, led by state Sen. Tan Parker, a Republican, ultimately handled the threat themselves.

In another illustrative failure, the federal government said it didn’t even have the authority to review a Chinese company’s $700 million project near another Air Force base in North Dakota, which the Air Force described as a “significant threat to national security.” Thankfully, local authorities heeded the warning and blocked the project themselves.

Clearly, U.S. national security agencies must do better.  

At the federal level, lawmakers should ensure that national security agencies are able to identify front companies, owned or controlled by foreign adversaries, that purchase American real estate. Laws requiring disclosure of foreign ownership of farmland need to be enforced.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, charged with scrutinizing foreign investments for national security concerns, needs to have jurisdiction over Chinese land purchases and to police that jurisdiction thoroughly. The interagency committee also needs to treat Chinese ownership of critical capabilities such as food production as the national security threat it is.

Dozens of states already restrict foreign land ownership, and many have taken action against land purchases by foreign adversaries in just the past two years. As state legislators continue to address real estate-related threats, here are three principles to help ensure that new laws effectively address threats without being overly broad or causing undue hardship for businesses and individuals.

1. Consider reviewing transactions rather than simply banning purchases. As a general principle, property restrictions should be as narrow as possible to address genuine threats.

Reviewing individual transactions can lessen the need for blanket bans, allow states to preserve opportunities for economic development that don’t present national security threats, and prevent the need to legislate loopholes when a state has an existing reliance on a corporation owned by a foreign adversary.

2. Address all potential threats. Some states have limited new restrictions to adversary governments or state-owned firms, but there is no such thing as a truly private Chinese company.

All Chinese companies legally are required to obey the dictates of China’s communist government, and real estate restrictions should address ostensibly private Chinese companies as well as their subsidiaries.

Similarly, some state bills apply only to agricultural land. Although this is a sensible category to address first, China-related national security threats are present in purchases of non-agricultural land and those also should be addressed.

3. Protect the free market. Consequences should target foreign adversaries alone, and criminal or civil liability associated with land ownership restrictions shouldn’t be imposed on sellers, real estate professionals, or lenders.

States also should be mindful not to damage the integrity of land records and chain of title. They should ensure that forced divestments should be undertaken only through regular judicial processes and properly recorded.

Although the threat from China is global in nature, Chinese threats to the U.S. homeland are becoming especially acute because of repeated cyberattacks, intellectual property theft, dangerous plans for American businesses, surveillance, infrastructure penetration, military signal tapping, and spying on military bases—to say nothing of last year’s notorious spy balloon incident.

Chinese ownership of critical real estate would exacerbate all of these threats and heighten long-term risks such as adversary control of the U.S. food supply.

States are right to be concerned, and the federal government is failing to support them. Both state and federal governments can and should take action to address Chinese purchases of U.S. real estate before this problem becomes a crisis.

Bryan Burack is a senior policy adviser for China and the Indo-Pacific at The Heritage Foundation.

Reprinted with permission from The Daily Signal by Bryan Burack.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of AMAC or AMAC Action.

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Leslie
Leslie
20 days ago

How about proof of US citizenship to own land in the US?

Kim
Kim
19 days ago

In the link to the article quoting State Senator Tan Parker, he claims there’s hardly any wind in the part of Texas where a Chinese businessman plans to install a wind farm. That billionaire bought 140,000 acres, with 15,000 set aside for the wind farm. What does he plan to do with the rest of the land? Why are these purchases suspiciously close to sensitive infrastructure or military bases? Why do we allow it? We look weak and conciliatory by not refusing these purchases.

Arkansas Governor Sarah Sanders legislated that no land in her state can be sold to the Chinese. I’m not sure if she is “taking back” land already purchased. But that’s the way the entire country needs to go. No land sales to any foreign entity!!

All land and American-based companies sold to foreign people, governments, and companies should revert back to American ownership. I simply don’t trust the others and fear this could turn into a takeover in the future. Any way you look at it, these land purchase weaken our country and give foreign groups bases to carry out their intentions. Retain 100% of our sovereignty! Bring on the blanket bans!!

Rob citizenship
Rob citizenship
20 days ago

Good work on this important topic Bryon Burack – I am 73, and this matter of foreign countries with communist governments investing in property in areas with national security concerns is a common sense issue – however. common sense apparently is not very important to some people in U.S. government these days. This could be due to the internet influence – what I mean by internet influence is how the English language has been changed since the internet,how many words have new meaning, resulting in the way of thinking being changed around as well And then there is what can be accurate described as the epidemic of obfuscation that is something distorting the way some people regard the truth. Good character qualities need to be practiced , a respect for common sense needs to be revived , things connected to internet influenced policies need to be questioned – and questioned carefully , not simply accepted as true just because it came from some internet source. Systems are plans, ideas, strategies and they are determined by people – not technology. So, who are the people that use systems ? That has to do with responsibility . The word suspicious is appropriate for this communist land investment matter. This is the United States of America and standards for doing things properly should be respected. This Nation has a foundation of intelligent thought, for example the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights of the Constitution . Integrity needs to be brought into the picture when it comes to those matters concerning foreign countries buying land here. In the spirit of the values of Faith, Family and Freedom and a system that will respect Honor, Honesty , Integrity, Courage and Loyalty. God bless America, land of the free , home of the brave.

Aloha
Aloha
20 days ago

China should not be allowed to buy US soil through the hands of Bill Gates or any other real estate agents that turn traitor against our great country for profitable self gains in times of uncertainty of criminal espionage against our country, cyber insecurity, and many other criminal threats, against our country!

G
G
20 days ago

????LORD HELP US! ????Please and Thank You!!

johnh
johnh
19 days ago

Other countries have laws against foreign countries owning property or businesses. It is time for USA to pass a law of no foreign ownership before it is too late.

LMB
LMB
19 days ago

I wouldn’t be surprised that many of the members of Congress are getting their 10% too!!!

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
19 days ago

Is the Big Guy getting a 10% real estate commission?

Thinking
Thinking
19 days ago

Under this regime no matter who is in charge in overseeing foreign countries, especially China, buying up our land, it will be allowed by the current regime. They allow spy balloons flying overhead for days. We the people have to alert the people hey we are being spied upon. A global world where all this is allowed is where Obiden is working on. America as we know it has to go. China owns all the largest world ports. And major businesses all over the world. Plus social media via TikTok and on line companies. Ole Joe is a very minor player on the world stage and they are deadly afraid Trump is winning the election this year. Another failure of the current regime to protect America from the Chinese takeover that is going on every day and will be complete if ole Joe is re-elected.

MaybeSo
MaybeSo
19 days ago

The U.S. government is so inept, it is inevitable that the country will go down. Is there no one competent enough to be leaders of the once great nation? We need to get rid of anchor babies, and reform immigration laws immediately. We also need to require photo I.D. to vote in all elections. The states and cities who ae allowing non-citizens to vote need to be voted out themselves. We need determination and patriotism established as the norm once more and quickly.

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
19 days ago

China owns OUR Farmland thus Food supply, very scary

Frank
Frank
18 days ago

No foreign entity may own land in China, Why do we allow this to happen in the USA especially when the Chinese Communist Party has never been our friend or ally?. We’re rivals at best.

Bob Chase
Bob Chase
19 days ago

Nothing will get done with current administration. Looks like dark money and the LEFT are on track to deny us a reprieve via Trump.

PapaYEC
PapaYEC
19 days ago

Unfortunately, Bill Gates’ farmland ownership is just as much of a US security risk, as is that of any of the members of WEF and Soros’ organizations.

PapaYEC
PapaYEC
19 days ago

Biden and his Rat Party of Slavery and Murder sold USA to the CCP for their own personal profit. I guess they don’t realize the CCP will eventually eliminate them.

johnh
johnh
19 days ago

We should stop ownership by all foreign entities, and not just the ones that this author considers adversaries at present time. Our farmers & ranches have brought America thru many tough times such as the Great Depression. Wake up Americans before it is too late.

Jim Oudie
Jim Oudie
19 days ago

WE HAVE A BUCH OF GREEDY BASTARDS SELLING OUR U.S. LAND TO OUR ENEMIES!!!!!!!!!!!! STOP THEM. THEY ARE TURNCOATS!!!!!!!!

Barbara
Barbara
18 days ago

When is the last time China, or any other country for that matter, allowed the US to make substantial land purchases in their country? What other country on this planet has just opened their borders to allow anyone to come on in? What other country has allowed a minuscule percentage of their people to destroy their laws, their rules their values, their way of life? None that I can think of. When is America going to wake up?

Patty
Patty
19 days ago

If you move to some foreign countries and buy a home there, you will never really own that home. Their Government can take it at any time. We should be doing the same.

Kjhanover
Kjhanover
19 days ago

Hah! Youre assuming they WANT a solution. NWO/WEF/CCP

Steve
Steve
18 days ago

These damn traiters selling our country off and am damn tired of it enough is enough

Ol'man
Ol'man
18 days ago

Why are we selling to Communist people anyway? If you or an industry or business is selling your property to a communist identity maybe your own citizenship to our country needs to be reevaluated.

S concerned American
S concerned American
19 days ago

I question No. 3, as it appears that sub groups that seem on the up and up buy land, business, and real estate, and then in turn sell it to foreign counties, businesses or individuals. I agree with Leslie. We need to be protecting our own land, creating and developing businesses and providing housing to keep our country growing and protecting our people. Foreign business may provide employment for our people but the profits and technology goes back to their country for them to capitalize on.

USMC7
USMC7
19 days ago

This is all a result of our greedy elected officials.Taking everything they can for their own benefit. They don’t care about what the end result will be. Everyone should investigate them before voting for them.Once they are elected it’s too late.

pdw
pdw
17 days ago

Money, Money, Money, It overrides common sense. Especially in our Country.
Heaven help us!!!!!!!!!!!!

John Riley
John Riley
17 days ago

Finally! This has been going on for over 15 years. The question is why it took this long and the answer may be who made money on it?

Greasemaker~~
Greasemaker~~
18 days ago

This is a no brainer and mark another dilemma for our great president biden! Vote people and not for Biden!!

Will
Will
18 days ago

Unbelievable I can’t belive the traitors in the white house are getting away with all this Rederick they are pulling , I never thought I would see the day in my life time where America willingly surrenders all with out a fight.The country is doomed with another 4 years of Obama Obiden in office . Say good bye to your freedom period.

BEA
BEA
16 days ago

Many countries you cannot own the land. As a foreigner you can build a house in Thailand, but you cannot own the land. In 100 years the land and the house returns to Thailand. Sounds good to me.

leland patterson
leland patterson
16 days ago

the purchase of any sales to our enemy should be forbidden! period!!!!

Concerned
Concerned
16 days ago

China for sure should not be able to purchase land in the United States. Could I purchase land in China? I suspect not. Let’s not be so sloppy about who can and should own land here in the United States. I can’t do anything about what is going on, but our representatives in the Federal Government sure can. If they don’t, the State Governments surely can. I believe that all of us know that the Federal Government is pretty slow at times getting things right, so let’s make each of our states address this issue now, not later.

Sean Rickman
Sean Rickman
16 days ago

i really can’t understand why the government in our country would allow any foreign ownership of land especially countries that are trying to beat us into the ground.I had one of our customers ask me some time ago what do you think is the worst thing that has happened in AMERICA in the last twenty-five years,that was an easy answer.I told her the democ rats,foreign enemies talk about our destruction,the leftist democ rats are doing it,she was a liberal,”nuff said”.The democ rats love this foreign influx.Open border is for santa claus votes,he is also fake.

Bobwoodman
Bobwoodman
16 days ago

They already have the system beat. I remember back in the late 90’s that China had birthing mills set up in apartments owned by them for pregnant women to give birth. Once they are born on our soil they are US citizens with the rights to buy property. They are in their late 20’s and 30’s now and are loyal to their mother land.

JPNWV
JPNWV
17 days ago

How about throwing the land owner who is selling the land to China, throw them in Jail. It should be against the law to sell land & etc to our enemies, which is just about every country except Israel.

Jim
Jim
17 days ago

We, as a country, connat allow this to continue. Even countries and citizens that are foreign allies should not be allowed to purchase land or anything else here in our country. I can see a yearly lease of some sorts and strict guidelines and also federal checks on said property. Once upon a time we didn’t allow foreigners to have any influence in our media, or movies, news stations, but we allow it now, WHY? What fool has been allowing this to happen, even foxnews is foreign owned, we have allowed the rot to spread to our shores and we need to do some housekeeping to get it back to where it should be, IMHO.

Gil
Gil
17 days ago

Send this article to your state representatives. This has to stop. China is purchasing farm land and wants to control our food supply. They are also purchasing real estate in mega apartment buildings. When I sold my home in 2021 in California, there were some Chinese corporations that were purchasing homes and, unless you did your homework, sellers did not realize this. We need to stop selling any real estate to foreign entities. That may sound extreme to some but we live in a world that needs to re-evaluate and rethink many ways of doing things. The internet changed our way of life in many, many ways and not for the better IMO.

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