Chuck Devore writes for the Federalist about the impact of Chinese ownership of American land.

The Chinese spy balloon incident of early 2023 painted a tangible picture of the growing problem of Chinese espionage, heightening concerns over the government’s intentions. Partly as a result, efforts at the state level to curtail foreign ownership of farmland and sensitive infrastructure have accelerated.

Legislatures in two-thirds of U.S. states are advancing bills aimed at curtailing purchases of real estate by Chinese-controlled interests. This legislation is almost entirely backed by Republicans. Legislation aimed at limiting the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) strategic penetration of the United States was recently passed in Georgia and South Dakota.

In Georgia, SB 420, which parallels new laws enacted in numerous other states, bans any “agent” of China from buying commercial land near military installations or any farmland. Democrats called it discriminatory, echoing CCP propaganda language. In March, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem signed HB 1231, which bars China, as well as Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, and Venezuela, from purchasing farmland in the state. Much of this recent success in the states can be attributed to a new group, State Armor, which launched last year under Michael Lucci’s leadership.

These state-level initiatives demonstrate growing alarm over the national security implications of foreign land acquisitions. But opposition from business and real estate associations, concerns about economic effects, and diplomatic considerations — including directed pressure from the CCP via its United Front organizations — often present significant hurdles to the passage of such legislation. So despite frequent bipartisan support and recognition of the need for action, efforts to address foreign ownership of farmland and critical infrastructure at the state level have met with mixed success prior to this year.

The landscape of American real estate purchases by Chinese nationals or businesses has undergone significant shifts in recent years. Initially driven by a desire to offshore savings away from the reach of the CCP and provide a home base for children attending prestigious universities, such investments have now expanded into the realm of farmland acquisitions, ringing national security alarm bells.