Senate Bill Seeks to Keep China From Encroaching On US Bases

( – Republican lawmakers have sounded the alarm for the last several years regarding China’s purchasing of land conveniently located next to United States military bases. National security experts have been calling for legislation to close loopholes that have allowed the adversarial nation to try, and succeed on occasion, to scoop up vast amounts of land. One such expert, Ross Kennedy, said that China is pursuing strategic land grabs to gather intelligence, including through electronic means, and to conduct counterespionage operations. He advised state governments to prevent China from buying any more land.

Republican senators took one step forward to combat the problem at the federal level by introducing the Protect Our Bases Act on October 24. South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, who is the ranking member of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, introduced the legislation along with five other Republican senators. The legislation would allow the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to conduct a review of land purchases that are located near military bases that are designated as sensitive, in addition to national laboratory sites.

CFIUS will require the agencies they represent to provide annual records of those types of facilities to ensure they all have the appropriate sensitivity designation. CFIUS will then have to submit a review to Congress each year and confirm that the list of sensitive sites is up to date. Within the legislation, the senators noted an attempted purchase of 370 acres of land by a Chinese Communist Party-affiliated company called Fufeng Group. The company claimed that it would use the land to build a corn mill. The land sits near Grand Forks Air Force Base, which is located in North Dakota. The base was not listed as a sensitive site and the land sale was expected to go through. However, the Grand Forks City Council decided against allowing the purchase. While it is unknown if the Democrat-controlled Senate will allow the bill to come to the floor, the Republican sponsors will likely attempt to recruit cosponsors from across the aisle.

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