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FIRST ON FOX: Fifty-one Republican lawmakers are sending a letter to three of President Biden’s Cabinet secretaries warning that national security is threatened by a Chinese Communist Party (CCP)-linked company’s efforts to buy farmland near an Air Force base in North Dakota.
Rep. Carlos Gimenez, R-Fla., led the letter with 50 of his colleagues to Secretaries Lloyd Austin, Janet Yelle, and Tom Vilsack about the land acquisitions near North Dakota’s Grand Forks Air Force Base by Chinese manufacturer the Fufeng Group.
The letter, exclusively obtained by Fox News Digital, will be sent to the three secretaries and warns of the “alarming development” for U.S. national security by allowing the Fufeng Group to purchase the land so close to the base.
“According to the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission, the Grand Forks Air Force Base has exceptional intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities, making the recently purchased land the ideal location to closely monitor and intercept military activity,” the lawmakers wrote.
“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,” they warned.
Gimenez and his Republican colleagues warned that the CCP-linked firm “will have potential advantageous opportunities to perpetrate espionage, including actions and activities carried out under commercial cover or auspices.”
NORTH DAKOTA COMMUNITY FIGHTS TO STOP CHINESE COMPANY FUFENG FROM OPENING CORN MILL NEAR US AIR FORCE BASE
Heritage Action vice president Garrett Bess told Fox News Digital 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,” Bess said. “We applaud Representative Gimenez for asking the Biden administration tough questions and pushing them to adopt a more aggressive posture against the CCP.”
The Republicans also said they “are concerned about the precedent this land purchase will set and its ability to serve as the model for our adversaries to encroach on American security, particularly through purchases of farmland in our congressional districts housing several military installations,” such as Homestead Air Reserve Base (HARB) in Gimenez’s Sunshine State district.
“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 letter reads.
The lawmakers also warned that acquisitions “of this magnitude” also “pose a threat” to America’s “food security,” not just national security.
“According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), at the beginning of 2021 foreign investors held a stake in approximately 37.6 million acres of U.S. agricultural land,” they wrote. “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.”
“This, coupled with USDA’s absence from permanent membership on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), is concerning, as the Department should have some jurisdiction over the review of agricultural land acquisitions that raise national security concerns.”
Gimenez and his colleagues called on the department heads to “take effective action in addressing the potential national security risks that appear to arise” from the acquisition.
They also sent several questions to the department heads, including on 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.”
Gimenez is joined on the letter by a multitude of Republican lawmakers, including Reps. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa, Scott Franklin of Florida and Lisa McClain of Michigan.
The CCP-linked farmland acquisition is far from the first land buy by the Chinese government and the purchases have been heavily scrutinized for the national security risks presented as they have been approved under both the Biden and Trump administrations.
A wind energy farm project near Del Rio, Texas, was reportedly nixed by the Texas government after it was revealed the 130,000 acre — around the size of Tulsa, Oklahoma — was only miles away from the Laughlin Air Force Base where pilots are trained.
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It was also revealed the Chinese billionaire who owns the company behind, GH America Energy, formerly served in the Chinese military and has deep ties to the CCP.
The purchases have raised red flags in Washington, with Texas Republican Rep. Tony Gonzales, who represents Del Rio, introducing a bill to curb foreign adversaries purchasing land anywhere near U.S. military installations.
The Fufeng Group paid $2.3 million to purchase the 300 acres of land just 12 miles away from the Grand Forks Air Force Base. The company plans to invest $700 million to open the mill.
A spokesperson for the Pentagon told Fox News Digital Austin will be responding to the authors of the letter, as usual with his correspondence. The USDA and Treasury Department did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s requests for comment.