House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, along with other Congress members, set off on a high-profile Asia tour this week. While Pelosi’s office didn’t disclose Taiwan in the tour, her plane landed there on Tuesday.
Ahead of the meeting, China made their sentiments on the matter known through various statements and, most recently, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army conducting live-fire drills on Pingtan, an island in the Taiwan Strait, according to Jim Wiesemeyer, ProFarmer policy analyst.
Regarding the visit, China’s foreign minister spokesperson Zhao Lijian says, “The Chinese People’s Liberation Army will not sit back.” Following Lijian’s statement, China sent warplanes to the Taiwan Strait on Tuesday.
Upon Pelosi’s plane leaving Taiwan on Wednesday, China claimed it will continue it’s live-fire drills surrounding Taiwan beginning Thursday.
Meanwhile, Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) told AgriTalk Host Chip Flory that Pelosi’s visit isn’t about seeing whether China will “stay in their box.”
“This is not about whether the Speaker can go to Taiwan,” he says. “Let’s reengage in the Pacific with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, let’s trade with our friends in the pacific, let’s get our economy in shape so that we’re a stronger country. That’s how we compete with China.”
While China raises concerns over American boots on the ground in Asia, the country continues to grow its own footprint in the U.S.
USDA’s latest data shows China owns over 191,000 acres of U.S. lands, but that was before a North Dakota land sale this Spring.
A Chinese company, Fufeng Group, recently acquired 300 acres in North Dakota for $2.6 million. According to the company, it intends to establish a milling plant.
Burgum penned a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Monday, requesting the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) quickly review the Fufeng Group’s purchase.
“We ask that this review process be completed with the utmost urgency to aid Grand Forks officials in their decision-making process and provide clarity on whether this land purchase has national security implications,” Burgum wrote.
Eric Chutorash, Fufeng Group USA COO, claims the company has no Chinese government ownership and all workers in the plant will be Americans. He says he “cannot imagine” anyone in the facility would partake in espionage.
“I know we’re not going to be asked to be collecting any intelligence on Grand Forks Air Force Base,” Chutorash told the Grand Forks Herald during a forum in March . “I can’t stress it any more than that. (But) me personally, I wouldn’t provide it. I don’t believe the team being built there would provide it. … Our HR director, commercial director and sales team and engineer, they’re from here – they’re not people transferred from China.”
According to Burgum, the Fufeng Group has agreed to a voluntary CFIUS filing to further explain its intentions in North Dakota. However, Chutorash claims his team would be required to state a reason for the CFIUS review when they offer consent, and they have been given no reason to request a review.
Big Trouble in Little Texas
This isn’t the first time a question has been raised in China’s stake in the U.S.
The plug was pulled on a similar wind energy project in Del Rio, Texas, in April when state officials realized two key issues:
1. The land dedicated to the wind farm is miles from the Laughlin Air Force Base.
2. The Chinese company hired to carry out the job is owned by a former member of the Chinese military who has direct ties to China’s ruling communist party.
Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX), who unsuccessfully pushed for the Trump Administration to reconsider allowing GH America Energy—a Chinese energy company—to purchase 130,000 acres in Val Verde County, Texas, in early 2021, has sought out secondary avenues.
In April 2021, Gonzales cosponsored the Protecting Military Installations and Ranges Act of 2021, which aims to place restrictions on certain property purchases entities in Russia, China, Iran or North Korea.
The bill was referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.
More At Stake with China
Aside from land, the U.S. government has also raised concerns over Chinese equipment’s hold on rural America.
Chinese state-supported telecom companies, Huawei and ZTE, faced scrutiny in the past when they sold equipment to Midwest providers.
While various Chinese telecom companies, including Huawei and ZTE, have been banned in the U.S. due to spying concern, removing their equipment hasn’t proven easy.
Congress dedicated $1.9 billion in 2020 to remove and replace 24,000 pieces of the Huawei and ZTE equipment in America. According to Chuck DeVore, former California assemblyman and retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, none of the equipment has been removed as carriers say the complete replacement costs will add an additional $3 billion to the price tag.
“Chinese telecommunications equipment remains a ticking timebomb,” wrote DeVore. “The time for talk is over; we need action.”