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Bill to bar Chinese citizens and government from buying land in Texas gains traction among Republicans

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governor Greg Abbott said this week, he will sign a proposed bill that would bar citizens and foreign entities from four countries, including China, from buying land in Texas.

Filed in November by Republican Senator Branham. Lois Colkhorst, Senate Bill 147 will prohibit citizens, governments and organizations from China, Iran, North Korea and Russia from buying land here, which, in part, she said, and other Republicans, will help limit foreign influence in Texas.

The bill also ban the purchase or acquisition of property by a “public body” of four countries; a company headquartered in four countries; and a company “directly or indirectly controlled” by the four governments.

Opponents say the bill – and the GOP’s broader focus on threats from the Chinese government – is likely to further sow anti-Asian sentiment that has soared in recent years and disenfranchise immigrants, business owners and green card holders, while doing little to solve any problems. concern for national security.

“If this bill passes, it will become state policy against hatred of Asians,” the Houston head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said Friday. “It would violate the fundamental rights of not only citizens of other countries, regardless of their relationship with their governments, but also green card holders and possibly dual citizens.”

Others echoed those concerns this week.

“The bill does not say ‘military bases’,” a state spokesman said. jin woo, whose Houston area includes a large Chinese-American population. “There is no difference in what type of land is bought or who buys it. … It targets people indiscriminately.”

Wu also feared that the Chinese government might retaliate against the ban and that it could make it harder for companies of any size in the US to work with Chinese counterparts or compete in an increasingly globalized marketplace.

The proposal follows a 2021 bill that would bar Texas businesses and government officials from entering into infrastructure deals with interests from the four countries. This law, passed unanimously, was in reply to a Xinjiang real estate tycoon buying roughly 140,000 acres for a wind farm in Val Verde, a small border town near Laughlin Air Force Base.

Colkhorst said her bill was also prompted by concerns about “growing ownership” of land in Texas by foreign entities.

“The time to address hostile land acquiring nations is before it becomes widespread, not after they already control a significant portion of Texas,” she said earlier this week. Late Friday, Colkhorst said in a statement that the bill would “make it abundantly clear that the bans do not apply to citizens of the United States and lawful permanent residents.”

She also added that the bill “does not prohibit foreign investment in business in Texas, as companies can still do business by leasing land and buildings.”

Colkhorst’s proposal comes amid a wave of bills and anti-China rhetoric.

“Communist China, America’s greatest enemy, is on a drinking binge,” Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller wrote in his report. column last year, which called for such a ban. “They’re buying up farmland in the US and Texas.”

But taken together, investors from the four countries own a tiny slice of foreign-owned farmland, both in Texas and nationally: Chinese investors own roughly 383,000 acres of U.S. farmland — about 600 square miles — less than 1% of the total. amounts. foreign-owned areas, according to the USDA. Land report for 2021. Investors from Russia, Iran and North Korea collectively own less than 3,000 acres, according to the USDA.

Canadian investors account for about 31% of foreign-owned farmland in the United States—by far the largest share, followed by Dutch investors at 12% and Italian investors at 7%.

In October, Republicans in the US House of Representatives called for a national inquiry into foreign land investment. Ex-president Donald Trump, who is running again for the White House, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is seen as the top Republican presidential candidate if he runs, recently said they support such bans. And, referring to the Chinese Community Party, the representative of the United States. Chip RoyR-Austin proposed this week a federal law that would similarly ban Chinese investment in land.

Wu, a lawmaker from Houston, said the bill was reminiscent of other anti-Chinese legislation dating back to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, a 70-year ban on much Chinese immigration for which the United States did not apologize until 2012. He questioned why China was included in the bill – and why the country was in the spotlight of the Republican Party – while many other countries shunned the spotlight.

“We are against communist countries, right?” he asked. “Where is Cuba? Where is Venezuela? Where is Vietnam? Are you saying that we are against countries hostile to our country? Great, but where is Saudi Arabia? Where is Pakistan located? Where are all these other places that have harmed our country? It becomes a real slippery slope.”

“The Asian population is the new scapegoat,” he added.

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