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July 22nd, 2024

Insight

Looking up, looking down

Cal Thomas

By Cal Thomas

Published February 14, 2023

Looking up, looking down
While the military is focused on foreign objects flying over American and Canadian territory, a more disturbing threat to our national security is occurring on the ground. Federal, state and local governments are behind in their response to the acquisition of American land by people and companies associated with the Chinese government.

The Department of Agriculture is supposed to oversee foreign ownership of U.S. farmland and all such purchases are required by law to be reported to the USDA. It is unclear how much reporting has been done because the USDA's Farm Service Agency mostly relies on volunteer reporting. That must change.

Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-IA) is among a growing number of Members of Congress who want more monitoring of farmland sold to foreigners.

The Quad City Times reported on research by Investigate Midwest (which self-describes as "an independent, nonprofit newsroom…(serving) the public interest by exposing dangerous and costly practices of influential agricultural corporations and institutions through in-depth and data-driven investigative journalism"). It found "significant gaps in the USDA database (and discovered) 3.1 million acres without an owner listed."

Constitutional attorney John Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute notes, "As of 2021, foreign persons and entities owned 40.8 million acres of U.S. agricultural land, 47% of which was forestland, 29% in cropland, and 22% in pastureland. Foreign land holdings have increased by an average of 2.2 million acres per year since 2015. Foreign countries also own over $7.4 trillion worth of U.S. debt, with Japan and China ranked as (the) two largest foreign holders of our debt."

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A simple web search shows China owns and controls almost 192,000 acres of farmland in the United States. That's not a large percentage of total farm acreage, but it's steadily growing.

Some of the land purchases have been near U.S. military bases. What does that tell you? It said enough to the City Council in Grand Forks, North Dakota, which recently voted unanimously to block the purchase by a Chinese company of a corn mill after national security concerns were raised by the U.S. Air Force because of its proximity to a military base.

Additionally, Customs and Border Protection (CPB) reports a 700 percent increase over a year ago in Chinese migrants arriving at the Southern border. The number of Chinese migrants encountered by the CBP has been steadily increasing every month since February 2021, reports the New York Post, citing federal data.

Lawmakers in Texas, Florida, Arkansas and Congress have proposed laws banning citizens of China from purchasing land, homes and other buildings in the United States. If people want an issue that ought to be bipartisan, this one is it.

If balloons traversing the U.S. and Canada are not enough for us to get serious about China's worldwide effort to replace the United States as a world power, conducting espionage at many levels and what looks like preparations to invade Taiwan as Beijing tests U.S. resolve, then what will get our attention to take stronger countermeasures?

The Chinese Communist Party oppresses its people, controls the press, discriminates against religious believers whose primary faith is not in the regime, refuses to hold fair elections, and jails and kills opponents. In this they are not unlike Soviet Russia. They are today's "evil empire." Beijing's aggressive agenda must be opposed, or the threat will spread to the point we might not be able to deter them. Backing measures to keep China from buying up American land is a good place to start, even while monitoring the skies for more balloons.

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Cal Thomas, America's most-syndicated columnist, is the author of 10 books.