Don’t mess with Texas. U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, a Republican who represents the 21st Congressional District, which includes parts of Austin and San Antonio, is taking on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in a big, Texan way. Roy proposes to ban CCP members from purchasing land in the United States.
It’s a short, sweet, and brilliantly cutting edge bill that should be voted into law ASAP.
This two-page bill has a potent engine of a single sentence: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the President shall take such actions as may be necessary to prohibit the purchase of public or private real estate located in the United States by members of the Chinese Communist Party.”
Roy’s press release to accompany the bill pulls no punches.
“In their quest for global domination, China has been buying up land and strategic infrastructure all over the world and in the United States,” it reads. “Direct Chinese investment in the U.S. economy is a major threat to the American way of life and requires that we take serious action to thwart the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from ever seizing control of strategically valuable domestic assets in the U.S.”
The bill is called the Securing America’s Land from Foreign Interference Act. According to a statement from the congressman: “Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that foreign investors control nearly 30 million acres of U.S. farmland, roughly the size of Ohio. Texas has the second-highest amount of foreign ownership with 3 million acres under foreign control.”
The release notes that a China-based energy company bought more than 130,000 acres in Texas, near an Air Force base, and “is now attempting to build a wind farm to access the U.S. power grid.”
Roy’s office notes that China is the second-largest foreign owner of land in Australia, including an Australian island that is now off-limits to Australian residents. China leased an airport in Australia for 100 years, and now, “China owns the airspace and Australian citizens can’t land in their own country without approval from the Chinese government.”
Kyle Bass, the billionaire Texan who has long criticized the CCP and shorted currencies from China and Hong Kong, supports the bill.
He wrote in an email: “The Communist Party of China exploits every nook and cranny of our open society to achieve their goal of primacy over the U.S. Allowing strategic purchases of land and improvements by CPC members here in the United States presents clear and present dangers to U.S. national security.”
Bass has asked a series of tough questions related to the ownership of land by CCP members. “How many purchases have proximity to U.S. military bases? How many direct connections to the U.S. power grid do they already have control over? How many of these purchases are on farms where they are stealing valuable genetic seeds to ship back to the mainland? Why have we allowed a Chinese company to acquire one of the largest poultry producers in America?”
He appealed to the principle of reciprocity, supported by the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) last November, with respect to land sales to CCP members.
“China doesn’t allow former U.S. military officers to acquire 200 square miles of land between an active Chinese military base and their border with Taiwan … so why should the U.S. allow such strategic purchases by Chinese nationals?” he said.
In April, Bass gave testimony to the Texas Senate on the issue of CCP ownership of land in Texas, specifically, “the ownership by Guanghui Group America (GH America Investments Group Inc.) and its leader, former Chinese People’s Liberation Army officer Sun Guangxin, of multiple Texas land (at least 10 Texas ranches) and business holdings (spanning at least 130,000 acres and including Blue Hills Wind Farm in Val Verde County).”
Bass noted in his testimony:
“GH America, Sun Guangxin, and Guanghui Group are closely connected to the Chinese military and the Communist Party of China. Sun is a former member of the 8th, 9th, and 11th sessions of the Xinjiang Chinese People’s Consultative Conference (CPPCC). SUN maintains close and positive relations with current and former Communist Party leadership. These relationships are likely the key to his business success in China. Guanghui Group’s website emphasizes the conglomerate’s determination in supporting Communist Party of China’s leadership, as well as prioritizing ‘Party-building’ amongst its employees. As of 2018, Guanghui Group operated 40 internal Communist Party committees, 227 local grassroots CPC branches, and employed more than 6,000 Communist Party of China members. … it appears that Guanghui Group is much more embedded in the Communist Party-State apparatus than most other ‘private’ sector businesses.”
Sun and his GH America are the types of entities that would be targeted by Roy’s CCP land bill.
But there are a couple of arguments that detractors will throw against the bill. First, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) already reviews some land purchases by Chinese nationals (including CCP members). So CFIUS can cancel any sales that have national security implications. CCP investment in non-strategic land, say in the middle of Nowheresville, United States, provides an economic hostage of sorts.
For example, if the U.S. government needs to confiscate CCP property in the United States as compensation for economic damages from COVID-19, it would be useful to have CCP property in the United States available for the taking. The more property the CCP keeps in the United States, the less willing it should be to risk expropriation of that property by harming America.
However, given the magnitude of damages owed by China, which are at least $19 trillion globally, the quantity of land that the CCP is purchasing is too negligible to make a difference. But it could make a difference if strategically located, or it provides a foothold for political influence, espionage, or elite capture.
The second major argument against the bill is that it will remind detractors of alien land laws of the late 19th century, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, and the Immigration Act of 1790, amended in 1875, along with other such laws. Many argue that these laws were racist. For example, one law of 1923 targeted the land ownership of U.S. citizens of Japanese descent. A 1921 law in Washington that targeted the Japanese went to the Supreme Court, was upheld, and caused diplomatic tension with Japan. Some laws focused on new Asian immigrants, but not new Scandinavian immigrants.
These types of argument, however, can conflate patriotic support for American democracy and anti-communism with racism, or reject the sovereign right of a nation to control immigration. They typically fail to account for the growing military, economic, and diplomatic power of 21st-century China, or its totalitarian characteristics under the rule of the CCP. The China of today is not the China of the 19th century, nor is it the Japan of the 1920s.
Today, China is communist, territorially aggressive, promoting its political influence globally, and threatening elite capture in nations small and large. The CCP today enables the destruction of political, cultural, and linguistic diversity on a domestic and global level, including through its genocide against the Uyghurs. The CCP leads that genocide.
The bill proposed by Roy, therefore, is the right bill for 2021. But it will need a lot more support to become law. Bass noted, “For the bill to be powerful, I believe it needs Democratic sponsors and Republican sponsors alike.”
That’s exactly right. Three representatives who have done the right thing to introduce the bill with Roy are Reps. Lance Gooden (R-Texas), Ken Buck (R-Colo.), and Randy Weber (R-Texas).
Where are the Democrats? Where is the Republican leadership? At the very least, where is the rhetorical support for reciprocity with China on the issue of land ownership?
America’s failure to act decisively against the threat of the CCP, if such indecision continues, will be its own undoing.
Roy’s bill is decisive. It’s a corrective.
With the introduction of this bill, he’s putting the heat on not only the CCP, but other members of Congress. Who is going to step up to the plate, buck the naysayers, and do the right thing to cosponsor this bill? How much longer will American politicians of both parties allow China to walk all over us?
Anders Corr has a bachelor’s/master’s in political science from Yale University (2001) and a doctorate in government from Harvard University (2008). He is a principal at Corr Analytics Inc., publisher of the Journal of Political Risk, and has conducted extensive research in North America, Europe, and Asia. He authored “The Concentration of Power” (forthcoming in 2021) and “No Trespassing,” and edited “Great Powers, Grand Strategies.”
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.