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GOP governors: Biden administration, Congress should curtail foreign land buys

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(The Center Square) – Seventeen Republican governors said the Biden administration and Congress should intervene in the purchase of land by foreign entities.

A letter sent Monday by the governors specifically mentioned the Chinese government.

“It is no secret the communist regime in China is acquiring swaths of real property throughout the United States,” the governors said in the letter. “Very recently, Gotion, Inc., a subsidiary of Chinese-controlled Gotion High-Tech, Inc., bought two hundred and seventy acres of land in Green Charter Township, Michigan, not far from the Camp Grayling National Guard facility. Unfortunately, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States declined to block—or even review—this plainly alarming transaction.”

Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia passed foreign ownership laws in 2023, according to the letter. The governors said they would not tolerate inaction on the federal level.

“The Biden Administration must reckon with the fact that such entities are plain threats to our national security, our farmers, and our citizenry,” the governors said. “This is especially true since the CCP enacted a law in 2017 requiring Chinese citizens abroad to collaborate with Chinese security officials on intelligence work—no questions asked.”

Arkansas was the first state to order a company to divest itself of land after it failed to disclose ties to China.

Syngenta Seeds, LLC, which is owned by China National Chemical Company, or ChemChina, owned the 160 acres of land in Craighead County, according to the attorney general’s office. ChemChina is on the Department of Defense’s list of Chinese military companies posing a clear threat, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in October.

The seed company paid a $280,000 fine, according to Attorney General Tim Griffin.

The governors of Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming also signed the letter.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a December 2021 report, the latest available, that 3.1% of all privately held land and 1.8% of all U.S. land is owned by foreign entities. The number reflects a 2.4% increase since 2020.

Texas has the most foreign-owned land at 5.3 million acres. Maine has the highest percentage of foreign-owned private land, 20.1%, followed by Hawaii at 9.2%.

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