Several Chinese firms have bought or have begun efforts to buy large plots of land near key U.S. military bases in recent years.
In November of 2021, Grand Forks, North Dakota announced that Fufeng Group of Shandong, China had selected the area as a location for a new wet corn mill. According to a May report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), the new Fufeng Group mill would be on a 370-acre plot of land located about 12 miles from the Grand Forks Air Force Base.
The U.S. Air Force base is home to some of the top U.S. intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. The base is home to 319th Reconnaissance Wing, which is one of the major operators of the RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial reconnaissance vehicles. The base will also host a new space networking center which will help facilitate U.S. military communications across the globe.
The USCC report said the land purchase near the U.S. military base could be “particularly convenient for monitoring air traffic flows in and out of the base, among other security-related concerns.”
The effort to buy up land near the key U.S. military base looks to be part of a pattern of sub-national surveillance and espionage by Chinese firms.
Prior to the Fufeng Group’s effort to buy up land near Grand Forks Air Force Base, another Chinese firm had begun efforts to buy up around 140,000 acres of land located about 70 miles from Laughlin Air Force Base. That Chinese Firm, Guanghui Energy Co. Ltd, wanted to build a massive wind farm known as the Blue Hills Wind Project.
Guanghui Energy Co. is owned by Sun Guangxin. Sun is a Chinese billionaire who reportedly has ties to the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
Guanghui Energy Co’s efforts to buy up land near Laughlin Air Force Base caught the attention of both state and federal lawmakers. Lawmakers in the Texas state house passed legislation last year, known as the “Lone Star Infrastructure Protection Act,” the bans all contracts or agreements in Texas with foreign-owned companies related to critical infrastructure in Texas.
Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX), a lawmaker in the U.S. House of Representatives, also sponsored legislation along with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to halt the Blue Hills wind farm and any Chinese, Russian, Iranian, or North Korean real estate purchases on U.S. land within 100 miles of a U.S. military installation or 50 miles of military operations areas. The legislation was introduced in the House in April of last year but has not yet gone to a vote.