Newhouse, 50 colleagues question U.S. land purchase by Chinese company near military base

The recent acquisition of farmland near a United States military installation by a Chinese-based manufacturer with close links to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has raised the ire of U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and 50 of his colleagues.

The Fufeng Group bought the land near North Dakota’s Grand Forks Air Force Base, which is a military installation with intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities, making the recently purchased land the ideal location to closely monitor and intercept military activity, according to a Sept. 26 letter the lawmakers sent to U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Secretary Lloyd Austin, U.S. Department of Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack.

“The recent acquisition of property north of Grand Forks, North Dakota … is an alarming development for our national security,” wrote Rep. Newhouse and his colleagues. “The presence of a CCP-affiliated corporation near a military installation potentially undermines the integrity of our high capability military bases, jeopardizing our strategic interests.”

Rep. Newhouse and the lawmakers noted that the CCP-affiliated company could potentially commit espionage, and expressed concerns about the precedent this land purchase sets by serving as the model for adversaries to encroach on American security, “particularly through purchases of farmland in our congressional districts housing several military installations,” they wrote.

Additionally, the lawmakers pointed out that such acquisitions also pose a threat to the nation’s food security, citing data from the USDA that says foreign investors at the beginning of 2021 held a stake in roughly 37.6 million acres of U.S. agricultural land.

“This trend is expected to increase over the next few years, raising concerns about the negative potential implications it will have on domestic food production and national food security,” they wrote.

The representatives requested that the departments address the potential national security risks related to this transaction and asked them to respond to several questions within 60 days to guide oversight of the matter, including how DOD is addressing the potential national security risks and vulnerabilities of this acquisition and any future ones by CCP-affiliated entities. 

“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,” wrote the members.