Top senator pushes ban on all Chinese purchases of US land: ‘Not one more inch’

EXCLUSIVE: Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., on Thursday introduced the most sweeping legislation to date cracking down on Chinese purchases of U.S. land, calling for a full ban on those associated with China from buying any real estate on American soil. “For decades, the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] has been gobbling up American farmland and real estate,” Cotton told Fox News Digital. “At best, this submits American land and resources to China’s best interests, not America’s — at worst, these purchases serve as outposts for Chinese espionage campaigns against American businesses and military bases.” While recent legislation introduced in Congress would prohibit the purchase of America’s agricultural land, Cotton’s bill takes the extra step of banning all real estate purchases — a step meant to prevent Chinese entities from circumventing the definition of agriculture use in order to continue buying U.S. land. The Not One More Inch or Acre Act also stands out by targeting not just people and businesses associated with the Chinese but also “any” Chinese citizen. BIPARTISAN GROUP OF SENATORS PUSHES TO BAN CHINA FROM BUYING US FARMLAND Specifically, the bill would prohibit citizens, companies, and other entities of China — or any foreign person or entity acting on behalf of them or the Chinese government — from buying any public or private real estate located in the U.S. The ban does not apply to Chinese citizens who entered the U.S. as a refugee or were otherwise granted asylum. American citizens and immigrants who were lawfully admitted for permanent residence to the country are also exempt from the ban. Cotton’s bill requires the sale of any U.S. property owned or influenced by Chinese entities that the president determines to be a national security risk. It would also create a minimum penalty for foreign investors who fail to comply with U.S. Department of Agriculture disclosure requirements. “We can’t allow Chinese citizens, or anyone affiliated with the CCP, to own one more inch of American soil,” said Cotton. “And any American land exploited by current Chinese ownership should be sold.” CHINESE SPY BALLOON RAISES ALARM BELLS OVER CHINA BUYING UP US LAND Cotton was joined in pushing the bill by co-sponsor Sen. Katie Britt, R-Ala., who argued the U.S. needs to step up to treat China as America’s greatest strategic challenge. “There is no doubt that the Chinese Communist Party is our greatest geopolitical and national security threat, and everything they do is as our adversary,” Britt, the ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, told Fox News Digital. “The FBI has said that they open a new counterintelligence case against China about twice per day. From stealing our intellectual property and spying on our children through TikTok, to buying up American farmland near military installations and engaging in unfair trade practices that undercut Alabama steelmakers and shrimpers, we must hold the CCP accountable. We accomplish this through strength, not continued weakness. I’m grateful for Senator Cotton’s continued leadership on this critical issue. I’ll continue to fight to defend hardworking Americans while protecting our homeland.” Chinese purchases of U.S. land become an especially hot-button issue in the wake of China’s spy balloon that the U.S. shot down last month after crossing from Alaska to South Carolina. The surveillance aircraft’s days-long flight across the country re-energized concerns among experts and lawmakers over China’s ongoing efforts to buy land across the U.S., with some voices observing a pattern of suspected espionage activities near American military sites.  However, the issue of China buying up real estate on American soil is hardly new. Last summer, for example, the Chinese company Fufeng Group, a food manufacturer, made headlines for purchasing 370 acres of land in Grand Forks, North Dakota, some 15 miles away from Grand Forks Air Force, a center for both air and space operations. The Air Force recently denied Fufeng Group its building permits for a wet corn milling plant on the land, calling the project a “significant threat to national security.” In Texas, meanwhile, a Chinese company owned by a wealthy former Chinese soldier with ties to the ruling Communist Party bought 140,000 acres near Laughlin Air Force Base, where pilots are trained. STATES ACROSS THE US DEBATE LAWS REGARDING FARMLAND SALES TO FOREIGN NATIONALS FOLLOWING CHINA’S SPY FLIGHT Texas has the largest amount of foreign-owned acreage of any state, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Nationally, Department of Agriculture data shows that Chinese ownership of U.S. farmland increased from $81 million in 2010 to $1.8 billion in 2020. Amid such a surge, more lawmakers in Congress are pushing for tougher action, especially in the wake of the spy balloon incident. A bipartisan House majority overwhelmingly approved a measure on Thursday to protect rural land critical for renewable energy production from Chinese investors. Earlier this month, a group of senators led by Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind. introduced legislation to prevent people associated with the governments of America’s foreign adversaries — namely China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea — from buying agricultural land in the United States. Earlier this year, Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) introduced legislation that would blacklist China and other “foreign adversaries” from investing in, purchasing, or otherwise acquiring land or businesses involved in agriculture. Additionally, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., unveiled a bill that would force Beijing-backed businesses to divest their interest in U.S. agricultural land and prevent more from buying acreage. In the House, Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) introduced similar legislation to block China from purchasing American farmland.
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