After Senators Receive Alarming Warning from Air Force, North Dakota Mayor Quickly Moves to Stop Corn Mill
It was never a good idea for Chinese-owned Fufeng USA to build a corn mill in North Dakota, especially given its proximity to Grand Forks Air Force Base. Nevertheless, the city’s mayor, Brandon Bochenski, and the state’s governor, Doug Burgum, both Republicans and delighted by the prospect of economic opportunity, forged ahead with the plans.
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Andrew P. Hunter had sent a letter to North Dakota’s Republican senators, John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer, warning of the project’s risks to U.S. national security.
In the Friday letter, Hunter stated that the proposed mill is located just 12 miles from the Grand Forks base. He noted that while the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States had considered the project and concluded that it did not have jurisdiction over it. “[T]he Department’s view is unambiguous: the proposed project represents a significant threat to national security and with both near- and long-term risks of significant impacts to our operations in the area.”
Hoeven and Cramer issued a joint statement on Tuesday that said, “We believe the city should discontinue the Fufeng project and instead we should work together to find an American company to develop the agriculture project.”
In light of the warning, Bochenski said he would “block construction by trying to deny building permits and by refusing to connect city infrastructure to the building site,” according to the Times.
The governor expressed his support for the mayor’s decision in a Tuesday statement.
Eric Chutorash, Fufeng USA’s chief operating officer, did not respond to the Times’ request for a comment. And the Chinese Embassy in Washington “declined to comment,” according to the Times.
This is a win for sure, but the Chinese-owned company will still own 370-acres of U.S. farmland dangerously close to an Air Force base, the senators’ joint statement said.
When news of this deal first broke in late June, CNBC reported that Grand Forks Air Force Base is “home to some of the nation’s most sensitive military drone technology.”
It is also the location of a new space networking center. “A North Dakota senator” told the network that Grand Fork oversees “the backbone of all U.S. military communications across the globe.”
Both the Democratic chairman, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, and the Republican ranking member, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, of the Senate Intelligence Committee told CNBC at the time that they were opposed to the deal.
Gary Bridgeford, one of the three owners who sold their land to Fufeng, spoke to CNBC. He’d been surprised by the backlash from his neighbors.
“I’ve been threatened,” he said. “I’ve been called every name in the book for selling property.”
But Bridgeford found the national security concerns to be “overblown.” He asked, “How would they gain any knowledge of the base? It’s about 12 miles away. It isn’t like it’s next door.”
“People hear the China stuff, and there’s concern,” he added. “But everyone has a phone in their pocket that was probably made in China. Where do you draw the line?”
Bridgeford, like so many others, even those in government, underestimates the threat that China poses to the U.S.
It’s been clear for years now that China’s goals are not noble. Chinese President Xi Jinping aims to replace the U.S. as the world’s largest superpower. Former President Donald Trump understood the threat. The current administration — not so much.
The real problem here is that Chinese nationals and entities have been buying up an alarming amount of American farmland. In September, The Wall Street Journal reported that “U.S. Department of Agriculture data show that Chinese ownership of U.S. farmland leapt more than 20-fold in a decade, from $81 million in 2010 to $1.8 billion in 2020.”
This little statistic tells you all you need to know.
China is not our friend, and their U.S. shopping spree needs to end.
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