Fifty-one House Republicans are expressing their concern to the Biden administration about a Chinese entity's purchase of farmland near a U.S. Air Force base in North Dakota.
Such an acquisition is an “alarming development for our national security,” the lawmakers, led by Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.), wrote in a letter dated Sept. 26 to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, according to a copy obtained by The Epoch Times.
The transaction in question concerns Fufeng Group, a major producer of food additives in China with links to the Chinese Communist Party. Fufeng recently purchased 370 acres of land in Grand Forks, North Dakota, where it plans to build a corn mill.
The site is roughly 12 miles from the Grand Forks Air Force Base, which is home to sensitive U.S. drone, satellite, and surveillance technology.
The land acquired by Fufeng would become “the ideal location to closely monitor and intercept" the military base’s “exceptional intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities,” they wrote.
“This CCP-tied entity will have potential advantageous opportunities to perpetrate espionage, including actions and activities carried out under commercial cover or auspices.”
Rep. Scott Franklin (R-Fla.), a signer of the letter, said he's troubled that the sale could have happened in the first place.
“It’s absurd that a Chinese Communist Party-affiliated company would be allowed to purchase farmland near a sensitive military base,” he told The Epoch Times in an email.
Besides potential national security risks, the lawmakers also see the sale as problematic from a food security perspective.
“Our over-reliance on Chinese supply chains proved disastrous during the COVID-19 pandemic. We cannot allow the CCP to have control over our food supply,” Franklin said. The “Biden administration must explain what it is doing to prevent our primary adversary from gaining control over our most basic resources.”
The lawmakers also questioned what kind of precedent the Fufeng project would set. Foreign adversaries could use that as a model to encroach on U.S. security by purchasing farmland in congressional districts that are home to military installations, they said.
For example, in Florida’s Miami-Dade County, the Homestead Air Reserve Base is home to the Air Force Reserve Command’s combat-ready 482nd Fighter Wing and supports operations for the U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team, as well as the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s air and maritime branch.
“At a time when the United States is engaged in great power competition with China, we must utilize every tool at our disposal to protect and defend the integrity of our military and national security, maintain military dominance, and maximize our global military readiness,” the letter states.
The corn mill project is currently on hold pending a national security review by CFIUS, which Grand Forks officials said on Sept. 1 might take 45 to 90 days.
Despite support from city officials over the economic opportunities the proposed plant could bring, there’s considerable pushback from local residents who say the city hasn’t been transparent enough about the project and worry that it hasn’t been vetted properly.
The Pentagon, the USDA, and the Treasury Department didn’t respond by press time to requests from The Epoch Times for comment. The Epoch Times also has reached out to CFIUS about the review's progress.