Foreign citizens and companies need US government approval to buy property within 100 miles (160 kilometers) of eight military bases, under a proposed rule change that follows a company trial. in China to build a plant near a Air Force Base in North Dakota.
The Treasury Department’s Office of Investment Security is scheduled to propose the rule on Friday. It would give expanded powers to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which screens business deals between US companies and foreign investors and can block sales or force the parties to change terms of an agreement to protect national security.
Controversy has arisen over Fufeng Group’s plans to build a $700 million wet corn milling plant about 12 miles (19 kilometers) from Grand Forks Air Force Base, where air and space operations are located.
as opposition to the project grew, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and US Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer, all Republicans, raised questions about the security risks and asked the federal government in July for a rapid review.
CFIUS told Fufeng in September that it review of the proposal and finally concluded that it had no jurisdiction to stop the investment.
The plans eventually fell through after the Air Force said the plant poses a great threat of national security.
The new rule affects Grand Forks and seven other bases, including three tied to the B-21 Raider, the the country’s upcoming stealth bomber. The Pentagon is working hard to protect the new, most advanced bomber from Chinese surveillance. The bomber will carry nuclear weapons and be able to fly manned and unmanned missions.
Six bombers are in various stages of production at Air Force Plant 42, located in Palmdale, California, while two other bases will serve as future homes for the 100-aircraft stealth bomber fleet: Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota and Dyess Air Force Base in Texas.
National security concerns about the other bases were not immediately clear. Also on the list are Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio and Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas, both training bases. Others selected for greater protection are the Iowa National Guard Joint Force Headquarters in Des Moines and Luke Air Force Base, located in Glendale, Arizona.
The Air Force was not immediately available for comment on why the eight bases were chosen.
CFIUS, a committee whose members come from the departments of State, Justice, Energy and Commerce and others, has the power to block the sale of property within 100 miles of other military bases under a 2018 law .
Hoeven said the CFIUS process for reviewing proposed projects needs to be updated.
“Because of this, Chinese investments in the US should be carefully scrutinized, especially for facilities like the Grand Forks Air Force Base, which is an important national security asset that serves as a frontline for all the Air Force Global Hawk intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations will play an increasing role in US space operations,” he said.
In February, Andrew Hunter, an assistant secretary of the Air Force, said in a letter to North Dakota officials that the military considers the project a security risk but did not elaborate on the types of risks posed. in Fufeng’s project.
The letter prompted Grand Forks officials, who initially welcomed the milling plant as an economic boon for the region, to withdraw support by denying building permits and refusing to connect 370 -acre (150-hectare) site to public infrastructure.
Fufeng manufactures products for animal nutrition, food and beverage industry, pharmaceuticals, health and wellness, oil and gas, and other industries. It is a leading producer of xanthan gum. It denies using the plant for espionage.
Lawmakers also called for a review of foreign investments in agricultural lands. Earlier this year, Sens. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Mike Rounds, RS.D., introduced legislation aimed at preventing China, Russia, Iran and North Korea from acquiring US farmland.
“Countries like China that want to undermine America’s status as the world’s leading economic superpower have no business owning property on our own soil — especially near our military bases,” Tester said in a statement Thursday.