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Horowitz: Effort grows to block Chinese ownership of US land, but establishment Republicans oppose it
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Horowitz: Effort grows to block Chinese ownership of US land, but establishment Republicans oppose it

You control the food and farms, you control the people. This is why it is prudent at this time in history to begin social distancing from China.

According to USDA data, as of 2019, foreign investors owned at least 35.2 million acres of U.S. agricultural land. In other words, 2.7% of privately owned crop, grazing, and forest lands are owned by foreign investors. While the top foreign holders are from Canada and friendly European countries, Chinese owners controlled about 192,000 agricultural acres in the U.S., worth $1.9 billion, an amount that has grown rapidly over the past decade.

On the residential real estate side, according to the National Association of Realtors, Chinese nationals are the largest foreign buyers of property, totaling $11.5 billion in 2020 alone. Given that we now make everything in China, isn’t it obvious that we shouldn’t give the Chinese communists a foothold on our own soil to be used against us?

Food, energy, medicine – these are the things we must control in America by Americans. We cannot have China further manipulate our food supply at a time of looming scarcity. And eventually, the Chinese influence will grow further. China, which is the second largest foreign owner of land in Australia, bought an Australian island and then banned its Aussie residents from even living there. In 1993, China paid the Australian government to lease the Merredin airport for 100 years. Now China owns the airspace and Australian citizens can’t land in their own country without approval from the Chinese government.

To ensure we don’t have this problem in America, Rep. Chip Roy introduced H.R.3847: The Securing America’s Land from Foreign Interference Act, last year. The bill would categorically ban any member of the Chinese Communist Party from owning public or private real estate in the U.S. Obviously, with Democrats in control of Congress, a party that has members who literally sleep with Chinese spies, there is no prayer to get this bill passed. But it shouldn’t stop red states from instituting statewide bans on their own.

Last month, Arizona became the first state to embark on this goal. State Sen. Wendy Rogers introduced Senate Bill 1342, which stipulates that members of the Chinese Communist Party "may not own real property" in the state and that any deed such a member currently has is deemed invalid. Her bill was inspired by a narrower piece of legislation signed by the Texas governor last year banning people from China, North Korea, Iran, and Russia from accessing the electrical grid. That bill was born out of local outrage in response to a Chinese billionaire who purchased land to build a wind farm near Laughlin Air Force Base.

The Arizona bill passed the Commerce Committee along party lines on Feb. 16 and now awaits floor action in the Senate and then the House. However, numerous Arizona Republicans expressed reluctance to move the bill forward because they are scared of being mean to China.

On the other side of the country, South Carolina state Rep. Patrick Haddon wants to take the divorce from China a step further and divest all state ties to Chinese companies. “Every Chinese company, without exception, is either majority owned or controlled by the Chinese Communist Party or the People's Liberation Army," Haddon said in a recent press conference introducing a series of eight bills severing ties between the Palmetto State and China. "Investing in Chinese companies and doing business with these companies, at the very least, contributes monetarily to the Chinese government as China is in the midst of a massive military buildup and modernization programs."

H 4186 would ban all state financial incentives to certain companies owned in part by the Chinese Communist Party and prohibit any American company that does business with such companies from receiving state incentives. H 4841 would prohibit state and county governments from investing in certain Chinese companies. Several other bills would prohibit state pension funds from being invested in Chinese-owned companies. H 4845 bans Chinese companies from owning more than 100 acres of land within the state. Finally, H. 5009 would close the state’s commerce office in China and merge it with the office in Taiwan.

The ownership issue is of grave consequence. Not only do some Chinese nationals directly own land, but they also own large agribusinesses that own a lot of U.S. farm land. The most glaring example is Smithfield, the largest pork producer in the U.S. It was bought out by Chinese firm Shuanghui, now called WH Group, in 2013. The company now owns by proxy 146,000 acres of farmland in Missouri. As the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) observes, “Missouri had formerly banned all foreign ownership of agricultural land in the state, but one week before Shuanghui took over Smithfield, that rule changed to allow foreign entities to own up to 1 percent of the state’s farmland.”

So, what could go wrong with the Chinese owning the largest pork producer? As the CSIS reminds us, “When the pandemic hit, Smithfield increased pork exports to China even as the United States experienced widespread meat shortages due to supply chain disruptions and Smithfield closed some of its plants due to poor working conditions.”

Haddon’s bills are designed to designed to deter this from happening in South Carolina. These are the sorts of measures that one would expect to garner bipartisan support, yet in every state where they are proposed, every Democrat and many Republicans oppose them. It’s bizarre that during a time when both parties want to punish all Russians for the actions of Putin, they are dead set against divesting from China, which is more systemically evil throughout its government and is an even bigger strategic threat. Just within a week, five major Hollywood studios pulled the release of Russian films. But not a word on China, which is threatening to use Ukraine as an example against Taiwan.

The Post and Courier reports that Republican Gov. Henry McMaster is “lukewarm” to Haddon’s proposals and has some concerns about the bills. “We need to be careful and know what we’re doing,” McMaster said. “Because we do want to build trade in South Carolina and have all of our people working.”

Rep. Hadden, though, believes the skeptics are being short-sighted by refusing to embark on the process of weaning our dependency on China. “The politicians who don’t see the threat posed by the Chinese communist government owning vast amounts of American farmland are not paying attention.”

According to the Post and Courier, there are 42 Chinese companies with investments in the state worth nearly $500 million in capital since 2017. But this just illustrates how dangerously intertwined with and dependent upon China we have become. At a minimum, we should start by banning land ownership, which is much more of a security threat, especially as it relates to farming and the food chain. “America’s ability to produce our own food is fundamental to our national security, our economic health, and our way of life,” warned Haddon in an interview with TheBlaze.

The financial incentives and pressure from the establishment business community are consistently an obstacle to fighting back on values and security issues even in red states. Haddon has blunt words for those Republicans. “Politicians who are campaigning on economic development at the expense of our national security should be ashamed of themselves. South Carolina taxpayers should not be forced to fund tax incentives that go directly to the Chinese Communist government. That shouldn’t be a controversial position for conservative Republicans.”

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