(The Center Square)
Legislation in Congress would bar China and foreign adversaries from buying land around US military installations, including six major bases in North Carolina.
US Sen. Ted Budd, R-NC, is sponsoring the Defense Military Establishments and Hierarchies Act, which Sen. Reintroduced by Ted Cruz, R-TX. The legislation targets efforts by hostile actors in China, Russia, Iran and North Korea to seize US land near US military installations or territories.
The bill would also authorize the Defense Department to halt construction at any site under federal investigation.
The Army’s Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base are located in the southeastern part of the state; Seymour Johnson Air Force Base is in eastern North Carolina; And Marine Corps Air Station Camp Lejeune and MCAS New River are along the coast, no more than an hour’s drive from the more inland MCAS Cherry Point. Two Coast Guard bases are located on the north coast at Elizabeth City; and Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point on the southern coast of Brunswick County. There are other places that qualify under the bill.
It is a national security measure and the bases have thousands of troops and billions of dollars in economic impact for the Old North State.
“The increasing strategy by countries like China of buying up land near military facilities across the country is a direct threat to our national security,” Budd said. “As a senator from a state that has eight military installations and is home to thousands of active duty service members and veterans, this is a threat that must be confronted head on and stopped.”
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Cruz previously introduced the bill in 2021, after offering similar legislation as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2021.
The latter was in response to the growth of Chinese-owned wind farms disrupting operations along South and West Texas military training routes and authorizing the Defense Department’s Siting Clearinghouse to more closely scrutinize wind farm construction near military installations.
“I am proud to help protect our national security interests with this common-sense bill to protect our infrastructure and infiltration against governments and administrations that threaten the United States,” Cruz said. “The espionage threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party is severe, persistent and has repeatedly threatened the safety and security of Texas and indeed all Americans. The CCP cannot be allowed to expand those efforts by purchasing land near installations that are integral to our national security.
Similar House legislation was reintroduced last week by U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-TX, titled “Protecting Military Installations from the Foreign Espionage Act,” which aims to address the same problem.
Gonzalez wrote a letter to former US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in January 2021 that raised concerns about GH America Energy, a subsidiary of China’s Guanghei Energy Company. It bought 130,000 acres in Val Verde County, Texas in 2015 near Laughlin Air Force Base, the branch’s largest training base.
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In addition to concerns about the company having CCP ties to the power grid, Gonzalez highlighted potential implications for national security, despite assurances from the Committee on Foreign Investment that the deal does not pose security concerns.
“If they haven’t already, the CCP could use this site to gather intelligence about Air Force pilot training and United States border security operations,” he wrote.
Similar land purchases would not be possible under Cruz’s bill, which would deny purchases linked to opponents within 100 miles of a military installation or within 50 miles of a military training route.
Syndicated with permission from The Center Square.