CHINESE LAND PURCHASES
Background: The $7 billion purchase in 2013 of Virginia-based Smithfield Foods, America’s largest pork producer, by Chinese investors ignited interest in Chinese acquisitions of land, real estate, and businesses that has yet to subside. Actions to legislatively block these purchases escalated after the China spy balloon incident in February of 2023, and before that, a revelation that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) had no jurisdiction over a $700 million proposed acquisition of a 370-acre corn-milling operation in North Dakota by Chinese investor Fufeng Group. The site is less than 12 miles from Grand Forks Air Force Base.
Numerous bills have been introduced, detailed below. More importantly, floor amendments garnering overwhelming bipartisan support to block these purchases were included in House and Senate “rule” bills.
House Action on Energy Bill: On March 30, the House overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the Lower Energy Costs Act to protect rural land used for renewable energy production from purchase by Chinese investors. The amendment was approved 407-26, with 223 Republicans and 184 Democrats voting in favor.
Recent Senate Action: On July 25, the Senate approved an amendment, sponsored by Sens. Rounds, Tester, and Lummis, to put the Agriculture Secretary on the CFIUS Board overseeing foreign investment deals. The amendment passed 91 to 1. The overall bill, the Senate’s version of the NDAA, passed 85 to 11. The House and Senate must resolve some differences but with lopsided bipartisan support in each chamber, the chances of passing agreeable language in the NDAA or as part of a full-year funding deal are fairly high.
118th Congress Bills
S.168 – PASS Act of 2023
Rounds, Mike [R-SD] (Introduced 01/31/2023) Cosponsors: (9, 8 Rs and Tester)
Summary: Amends the Defense Production Act of 1950 to include the Secretary of Agriculture on the CFIUS [Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] and require review of agricultural transactions.
H.R.4772 – Stop CCP Land Act, HOUSE
Bice, Stephanie [R-OK-5], Introduced 07/20/2023, Cosponsors: (28 Rs)
Summary: This is the most interesting approach in that it forces States to take action to block Chinese agricultural land purchases by threatening Federal money. It calls for reports from the Ag Dept. and GAO.
H.R.809 – Prohibition of Agricultural Land for the People’s Republic of China Act
Newhouse, Dan [R-WA-4], Introduced 02/02/2023, Cosponsors: (79 Rs)
Summary: Instructs the President to take such actions “to prohibit the purchase of public or private agricultural (including ranching) real estate located in the United States by nonresident aliens, foreign businesses, or any agent, trustee, or fiduciary associated with the Government of the People’s Republic of China.”
H.R.344 – Securing America’s Land from Foreign Interference Act
Roy, Chip [R-TX-21] (Introduced 01/12/2023) Cosponsors: (14 Rs)
Summary: Similar to Newhouse’s HR 809, the bill instructs POTUS to 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 and entities that are under the ownership, control, or influence of the Chinese Communist Party.”