Republicans unveil effort barring China, Russia from buying US land

FIRST ON FOX: House Republicans unveiled legislation that would prohibit Chinese, Russian, North Korean and Iranian nationals from purchasing public or private real estate in the U.S.

The American Land and Property Protection Act, introduced by Rep. Mark Alford, R-Mo., and cosponsored by seven fellow House Republicans, orders the president to take action prohibiting nonresidents, businesses, agents, trustees or fiduciaries associated with the governments of China, Russia, North Korea and Iran from purchasing U.S. land

The prohibition would extend to any entity designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department.

“Foreign adversaries have no business owning American real estate,” Alford told Fox News Digital in a statement. “Right now, if Americans wanted to travel to Moscow, Beijing or Havana, we would not be allowed to buy property.

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Mark Alford

Rep. Mark Alford, R-Mo.  (Office of Rep. Mark Alford/Fox News Digital)

“Why is the reverse scenario permissible? Our legislation will change that,” he continued. “In an ever-changing global landscape, we must take the necessary steps to secure our homeland. Our bill is a crucial first step in accomplishing that.”

Reps. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa.; Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn.; Randy Weber, R-Texas; Alex Mooney, R-W.Va.; August Pfluger, R-Texas; Jeff Duncan, R-S.C.; and Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.; were listed as cosponsors on the American Land and Property Protection Act.

The effort comes as Republicans continue to raise the alarm about the growing share of American real estate purchased and owned by foreign entities. Lawmakers have argued such purchases could threaten U.S. national security, agricultural production and, sometimes, military interests if the land is located near a military base.

Putin and Xi

House Republicans unveiled legislation that would prohibit Chinese, Russian, North Korean and Iranian nationals from purchasing public or private real estate in the U.S. (Getty Images)

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In January, the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report showing the Department of Agriculture (USDA) has failed to consistently share timely data on foreign investments in U.S. agricultural land as required under the 1978 Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act. Further, Pentagon officials told investigators the USDA needs to regularly provide more up-to-date and specific data.

“This report confirms one of our worst fears — that not only is the USDA unable to answer the question of who owns what land and where, but that there is no plan by the department to internally reverse this dangerous flaw that affects our supply chain and economy,” Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., said after the report was published Jan. 18. 

north dakota corn field

A corn field and storage bins near Carrington, N.D. Chinese agricultural investment in the U.S. increased tenfold between 2009 and 2016 alone. (REUTERS/Dan Koeck/File Photo)

“Food security is national security, and we cannot allow foreign adversaries to influence our food supply while we stick our heads in the sand,” Newhouse added.

USDA’s most recent data suggests that, as of 2021, foreign investment in U.S. agricultural land grew to approximately 40 million acres. Additionally, Chinese agricultural investment in the U.S. increased tenfold between 2009 and 2016 alone.

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In February 2023, officials in Grand Forks, North Dakota, rejected a Chinese company’s proposed corn mill that received significant local pushback over concerns about its proximity to a U.S. Air Force base in the area. While the company, Chinese-owned Fufeng Group, was able to purchase 300 acres of land in the area, the local government rejected its building permits, effectively killing the project.

Xi and Raisi

Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Johannesburg, South Africa, Aug. 24, 2023.  (Xie Huanchi/Xinhua via Getty Images)

Air Force Assistant Secretary Andrew Hunter said prior to the Grand Forks City Council decision that the project would pose a “significant threat” to national security, but that the Committee on Foreign Investment (CFIUS) concluded it did not have jurisdiction in the case. CFIUS is an interagency task force overseen by the Department of the Treasury and tasked with reviewing certain foreign investments that may pose a national security threat.

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In August, a subsidiary of Chinese green energy firm Gotion High-Tech purchased 270 acres of land, including some zoned for agricultural use, in Green Charter Township, Michigan. The land is slated to be used to build an electric vehicle battery component factory but is located within 60 miles of military armories and within 100 miles from Camp Grayling, the largest U.S. National Guard training center in the country.

Like its determination in the Fufeng Group case, CFIUS ruled in April 2023 that Gotion’s plans in Michigan are not covered transactions.

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