Fufeng national security issue continues to raise concerns
North Dakota is home to two U.S. Air Force bases — Minot Air Force Base and Grand Forks Air Force Base – both significantly important to U.S. national defense.
Minot AFB, 13 miles north of the city of Minot, has the distinction of being the only dual wing nuclear-capable base in the Air Force, hosting two legs of the Nuclear Triad. The 5th Bomb Wing has B-52 bombers and the 91st Missile Wing controls, maintains and oversees Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles in the Minot missile fields.
Grand Forks AFB, 16 miles west of the city of Grand Forks, is an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaisance base. It has the 319th Reconnaisance Wing and its remotely piloted aircraft systems.
In recent months the Grand Forks base has been in the news due to its close proximity to around 370 acres of agricultural land purchased by Fufeng USA headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, and a subsidiary of Fufeng Group Limited based in Jinan, China. Fufeng USA plans to build a corn milling plant there.
It is a fine project to some of the folks in Grand Forks and in state government who have backed it.
But then some people raised the concern that a company with ties to the Chinese Communist Party in China building a plant so close to a military installation is a potential impact on U.S. national security. The feeling was the Chinese Communist Party (CCF) could use the plant to perform surveillance operations at Grand Forks AFB and even into other areas.
The plant project then came under review of the Council on Foreign Investment in the United States.
But about a month ago CFIS determined the land purchased for the plant project was not a covered transaction under federal law and basically CFIS did not have jurisdiction to stop the Fufeng purchase of land near Grand Forks AFB.
Senators John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer, both R-ND, have expressed their concern prior to and after the CFIS review, and we think rightly so, that the project has security concerns due to its proximity to Grand Forks AFB.
Others have also raised their concerns about U.S. security, including Gordon Chang, Gatestone Institute senior fellow and an expert on China, who has publicly stated the Chinese company tied to the CCP is a danger to U.S. security.
Whether the state’s U.S. senators find a way to stop the project or whether it will continue shall be seen.
If a project, any project, by a foreign government or a company with foreign ties was being planned within close proximity of Minot AFB, would we be concerned? Rightly so.
Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, introduced legislation in the U.S. House this month that would block Chinese Communist Party entities from purchasing U.S. farmland. This past summer, Senators Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., introduced a similar bill.
There’s also a bill in the N.D. Legislature to ban foreign governments from buying agricultural land. We think the bill (House Bill 1135), introduced in the N.D. House, will be beneficial to this state. Rep. Larry Klemin, R-Bismarck, sponsored the bill with six other legislators signing on as co-sponsors. If passed by the N.D. Legislature, the bill would bar a foreign government and businesses they control from purchasing, acquiring, leasing or holding any interest in agricultural land in North Dakota, effective July 1, 2023.