US lawmakers are expressing concerns over the Chinese government's possible strategic takeover of the United States. This fear has arisen due to a Chinese company's recent purchase of 300,000 acres of land in the country. The acquisition that sparked this concern occurred in 2021 when a Chinese company bought land close to an Air Force base in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
There is concern that China's investments in the US may lead to them gaining control over its food and energy supply. China is a major trading partner of the United States, with significant economic ties outside North America. However, there are worries that the acquisition of large amounts of land by Chinese companies could result in their domination of various markets and industrial infrastructure.
The issue is not about the lands being purchased by Chinese companies. Compared to other lands owned by other foreign companies, the one owned by the Chinese makes a tiny percentage. So the major concern lies over censorship.
Some concerns have been raised about the potential for the Chinese government's influence on the US economy through Chinese-headquartered companies. The concern is that the Chinese government may utilize these companies to gain control over US assets while also potentially sharing sensitive information about their US customers with the Chinese authorities.
Looking back on the investments made, one can see that the Chinese companies are mainly putting their funds into food and energy. A good instance was when they purchased Smithfield Foods, the United States' largest pork processor.
Lawmakers Express Heavy Concerns About Chinese Companies
The current situation is of extreme concern as legislative measures are being taken to restrict Chinese companies' activities in the United States, specifically in terms of land ownership and control.
"I don't know that we know for sure all the foreign land that potentially is owned by Chinese individuals or folks controlled by the Chinese government," Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont, said while speaking to NPR.
Another issue fuelling the concerns of US lawmakers is that China property in the US is very close to some military bases. There are fears that the Chinese government might use these companies as a means of hacking into the communication of US military bases.
"What's missing here is a lot more information about where these specific locations or farmland purchases are located in close proximity to the military base," Craig Singleton said while speaking about the effects of the closeness between Chinese industries and US military bases.
US Citizen's Data In Danger
Another cause for concern, as highlighted by other lawmakers, is that the data of many US citizens could be at risk with Chinese companies. China and US tension has led to allegations that the Chinese government might steal data from Chinese companies.
Mark Kennedy, director of the Wilson Center's Wahba Institute for Strategic Competition, said the US government should be concerned since China officials are known for collecting and selling data from their companies to their government.
"That ability by the government to gain access to information is one of the reasons people view the risk of dealing with a Chinese corporation similar to what they would view as the risk of dealing with the Chinese Communist Party or the government," he said.