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Chinese company attempting massive land buy next to US Air Force base

An RQ-4 Globalhawk lands at Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota. (Johnny Saldivar/WikiCommons)
July 20, 2022

A Chinese food processing company is attempting to buy around 370 acres of land in North Dakota, in an area around 12 miles from the Grand Forks Air Force Base, raising concerns among lawmakers that the land purchase could be used to surveil the nearby U.S. base. Lawmakers requested a review of the purchase last week.

Late last year, a major Chinese monosodium glutamate (MSG) and xanthan gum producer known as the Fufeng Group introduced plans to build a corn mill in Grand Forks, the Grand Forks Herald reported. In the ensuing months, critics of the deal have raised concerns about the company’s ties with the Chinese government and the potential that the mill could be used to surveil Grand Forks AFB.

Grand Forks AFB is home to 319th Reconnaissance Wing, which is one of the major operators of the RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial reconnaissance vehicles.

In May the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) published a report which said the location of the proposed Fufeng mill would be “particularly convenient for monitoring air traffic flows in and out of the base, among other security-related concerns.”

USCC said, “Under the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2018 (FIRRMA), the land’s proximity to a military installation may qualify the transaction for a review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS)” but said, “There have been no public reports indicating whether CFIUS did or did not review Fufeng’s purchase in Grand Forks.”

Last week Republican North Dakota Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer joined Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, asking that CFIUS review Fufeng Group’s plans to purchase the land in Grand Forks.

Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL) is another lawmakers who has raised concerns about the proposed Fufeng facility. Waltz, who serves on the Armed Services Committee, said in a Tuesday interview with Fox News that “You are seeing the Chinese buy up America.”

Waltz said Chia is “buying up major tracts of land, not just in North Dakota, but also in Texas, also near an Air Force base. And in other locations, they’re buying up our food supply. Major chicken and pork producers. They’re buying up key energy producers. And then, of course, they’re pouring that money into their massive military buildup.”

“My question is, why isn’t the Committee on Foreign Investment in the Department of Justice and across the Biden administration, why aren’t they taking a closer look at this?” Waltz asked. “This is what the senators were demanding. And why aren’t they putting a stop to it in some of those cases I just listed, they looked at it and then approved it. That’s unacceptable.”

In addition to the surveillance concerns raised by the Fufeng plant’s proximity to Grand Forks AFB, Waltz also said Chinese agriculture products could dig up and reverse engineer U.S. genetically modified crops.

Waltz said China could reverse engineer U.S. genetically modified crops and feed their people without any dependence on U.S. food suppliers while simultaneously making other nations dependent on Chinese products.

“They can then choke off those supplies and use that as leverage geopolitically,” Waltz said.