WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Carlos A. Gimenez (FL-26) led a letter of 50 of his colleagues raising concerns over the recent acquisition of farmland near a U.S. military installation by a Chinese-based manufacturer with close links to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The letter was sent to Defense Secretary Austin Lloyd, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
The letter comes after a recent land acquisition near Grand Forks, North Dakota, by the Fefung Group, a Chinese-based manufacturer with close links to the CCP. The area houses the Grand Forks Air Force Base, which the members point out is a military installation incredibly important for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. The move raises concerns about the CCP’s ability to conduct espionage operations on U.S. military installations and jeopardizing U.S. strategic interests.
“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 members wrote in the letter led by Gimenez.
The members are expecting answers to the following questions from each of the Departments:
1. Are there any areas identified by the Department of the Treasury (Treasury), USDA, or the Department of Defense (DoD) in which the CFIUS statute, regulations, or agency interpretations are overly prescribed in ways that prevent U.S. national security agencies from effectively protecting U.S. national security and addressing risks that arise from farmland and real estate transactions?
2. How is the DoD addressing the potential national security risks and vulnerabilities of this acquisition and future ones by a CCP-affiliated entities so close to a sensitive military base?
3. Has Treasury and other agency co-leads established jurisdiction to act on this transaction and address the national security risks it poses? Has CFIUS prioritized the review of this transaction?
4. Increasing public examples of Chinese-based companies’ acquisition of farmland, including land close to military facilities, are merit for USDA to be added to CFIUS as a full member rather than only joining certain cases on an ad hoc basis. Was USDA requested to participate in an initial review? If not, what was the justification?
5. What actions are being taken by the DoD in cooperation with the U.S. military services and military base commands to understand and assess potential risks with foreign investments in close proximity to U.S. military bases and other facilities?
The Farmland Acquisition letter has been endorsed by Heritage Action, a conservative advocacy organization.
“The threat from the Chinese Communist Party is the most critical and consequential international threat that the U.S. faces, and CCP acquisition of land, particularly near U.S. military installations, is an immediate risk to America’s national security. Eliminating this risk requires an aggressive plan to prevent and punish malicious land use that threatens U.S. interests. We applaud Representative Gimenez for asking the Biden administration tough questions and pushing them to adopt a more aggressive posture against the CCP,” Heritage Action's Vice President Garrett Bess said after endorsing the letter.
View the full letter here.