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Chinese Firms Buying Land Near US Military Base Poses Security Threat

Fufeng Group, a China-based company is one of the companies which purchased 300 acres of farmland near Grand Forks, North Dakota, a rural area that lies about a 90-minute drive from the Canadian border.

Image of China’s national flag for representational purpose.

Beijing: Chinese firms buying land near the US military base could be a part of the pattern of sub-national surveillance and espionage by Chinese firms, American Military News reported.Several Chinese firms have bought or have begun efforts to buy large plots of land near key US military bases in recent years.

Fufeng Group, a China-based company is one of the companies which purchased 300 acres of farmland near Grand Forks, North Dakota, a rural area that lies about a 90-minute drive from the Canadian border.

The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) report, released in May, in which it said that the new Fufeng Group mill would be on a 370-acre plot of land located about 12 miles from the Grand Forks Air Force Base. The land purchase near the US military base could be “particularly convenient for monitoring air traffic flows in and out of the base, among other security-related concerns,” according to the report.

Alarmed after Fufeng Group bought the land near US Air Force Base, 30 US lawmakers, in a letter to Government Accountability Office (GAO), requested the agency to find out the extent of and trends in foreign investment in agricultural land. It also asked for a review of whether current standards for filing accurately capture the origin of the investment, Nikkei Asia reported.

Prior to the Fufeng Group’s effort to buy up land near Grand Forks Air Force Base, another Chinese firm had begun efforts to buy up around 140,000 acres of land located about 70 miles from Laughlin Air Force Base. The Chinese Firm, Guanghui Energy Company Ltd, wanted to build a massive wind farm known as the Blue Hills Wind Project, reported American Military News.

According to American Military News, the US Air force base is home to some of the top US intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. The base is home to the 319th Reconnaissance Wing, which is one of the major operators of the RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial reconnaissance vehicles. The base will also host a new space networking centre which will help facilitate US military communications across the globe.

“Recently, foreign ownership and investment in US agricultural land nearly doubled from 2010 to 2020 and also alarmed lawmakers. In a letter to Government Accountability Office (GAO), the 130 US lawmakers requested the agency to find out the extent of and trends in foreign investment in agricultural land. It also asked for a review of whether current standards for filing accurately capture the origin of the investment”, Nikkei Asia reported.

The US Air Force base is home to some of the top intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. The base is home to the 319th Reconnaissance Wing, which is one of the major operators of the RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial reconnaissance vehicles. The base will also host a new space networking centre which will help facilitate US military communications across the globe.

Guanghui Energy Company is owned by Sun Guangxin. Sun is a Chinese billionaire who reportedly has ties to the ruling Chinese Communist Party, according to American Military News. Guanghui Energy Co’s efforts to buy up land near Laughlin Air Force Base caught the attention of both state and federal lawmakers.

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Lawmakers in the Texas state house passed legislation last year, known as the “Lone Star Infrastructure Protection Act,” the bans all contracts or agreements in Texas with foreign-owned companies related to critical infrastructure in Texas.

Representative Tony Gonzales (R-TX), a lawmaker in the US House of Representatives, also sponsored the legislation along with Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) to halt the Blue Hills wind farm and any Chinese, Russian, Iranian, or North Korean real estate purchases on U.S. land within 100 miles of a US military installation or 50 miles of military operations areas. The legislation was introduced in the House in April of last year but has not yet gone to a vote, American Military News reported.