DeSantis Seeks to Ban China-Based Entities From Purchasing Florida Property

By Andrew Thornebrooke
Andrew Thornebrooke
Andrew Thornebrooke
Reporter
Andrew Thornebrooke is a reporter for The Epoch Times covering China-related issues with a focus on defense, military affairs, and national security. He holds a master's in military history from Norwich University.
January 11, 2023Updated: January 12, 2023

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is considering a move to ban Chinese entities from purchasing property in the state because of the economic and security risks posed by China’s communist regime.

“If you look at the Chinese Communist Party, they’ve been very active throughout the Western Hemisphere in gobbling up land and investing in different things,” DeSantis said during a press conference on Jan. 10.

“And, you know, when they have interests that are opposed to ours, and you’ve seen how they’ve wielded their authority … it is not in the best interests of Florida to have the Chinese Communist Party owning farmland, owning land close to military bases.”

The remarks follow warnings from security experts and lawmakers that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which rules China as a single-party state, is seeking to purchase strategic parcels of land throughout the United States from which it can conduct espionage or otherwise sabotage U.S. national security interests.

In recent years, Chinese land purchases in Texas and North Dakota, which both were situated near U.S. military bases, raised alarm among locals and policymakers in state and federal governments.

DeSantis said the CCP has “taken a much more Marxist–Leninist turn” under current Party leader Xi Jinping and suggested that communist China is now a “hostile nation.”

“We do not need to have CCP influence in Florida’s economy,” he said.

Epoch Times Photo
A sign opposing a corn mill in Grand Forks, N.D., stands near 370 acres recently annexed by the city for the project. Many residents don’t want the project in the city because the owner, Fufeng Group, has reputed ties to the Chinese Communist Party through its company chairman. (Allan Stein/The Epoch Times)

China Spending Billions on US Land Every Year

Chinese investors purchased more than $6 billion in U.S. real estate between March 2021 and March 2022, according to the National Association of Realtors, making it the largest foreign buyer in terms of dollars spent.

Florida has been at the center of that purchasing binge, with 24 percent of all foreign property purchases in the nation occurring there. The state with the next highest amount of foreign purchases was California, which accounted for 11 percent.

DeSantis described the CCP’s influence in U.S. society as “very insidious” and, to that end, said that he’s not only concerned with the CCP seeking out farmland but that he also wanted to terminate its access to residential properties.

“Why would you want them buying residential developments and things like that?” he said. “I don’t want them owning subdivisions and things like that.”

While outrage over the issue has been widespread in recent months, there have been relatively few concrete actions taken to curb the buying of U.S. land by CCP-aligned organizations.

Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) introduced legislation in November 2022 that would “prohibit the purchase of public or private agricultural land in the United States by foreign nationals associated with the Government of the People’s Republic of China.”

Likewise, Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) and Rick Crawford (R-Ark.) introduced legislation to improve national security by “preventing foreign adversaries from taking any ownership or control of the United States agriculture industry.”

There may be some movement on the issue. The House voted this week to establish a select committee to investigate issues related to the strategic competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party. That effort could also help to shed light on the risk posed by CCP front companies that seek to scoop up U.S. land.

Still, there’s the problem of identifying which companies are acting on behalf of the CCP, an issue that DeSantis said would need to be addressed to make any ban effective and fair.

“The issue is going to be, obviously, if someone comes in and buys, it’s not the CCP that’s signing that,” DeSantis said. “These are holding companies. … So you have to structure that in a way that will effectively police it.”

Andrew Thornebrooke is a reporter for The Epoch Times covering China-related issues with a focus on defense, military affairs, and national security. He holds a master's in military history from Norwich University.