by Micaela Burrow
Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law Monday a bill that would block Chinese ownership of agricultural land and property near military installations, the latest state to crack down on Communist Party control of U.S. sites.
The law prohibits anyone from China and other totalitarian regimes, including Iran, Russia, Venezuela, Syria, Cuba and North Korea, from having a stake in any property within 10 miles of Department of Defense installations or critical infrastructure. A separate bill, also signed into law Monday, creates additional hurdles for foreign ownership of private schools after federal lawmakers raised red flags over Chinese Communist Party (CCP) ties to a private Florida high school operating a military pre-enlistment program.
“Your state government takes the security of this state very seriously, and there’s a lot that the federal government needs to do of course,” DeSantis told the audience at a signing ceremony Monday. “There’s a lot that’s been derelict over the years with that … we’re getting ahead of things.”
The Florida governor signaled support for a ban on Chinese property ownership in January, saying “holdings … by hostile nations” would present a threat to the state’s economy.
“When [the CCP has] interests that are opposed to ours and you see how they’ve wielded their authority — and especially with President Xi, who’s taken a much more Marxist Leninist turn since he’s been ruling China — that is not in the best interest of Florida to have the Chinese Communist Party owning farmland, owning land close to military bases,” DeSantis said in January.
In addition, Florida Republican Rep. Mike Waltz raised concerns about Chinese companies with investments in schools across the country that host Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) programs intended to prepare high schoolers for future military service, including at the Florida Preparatory Academy in the city of Melbourne. Beijing’s financial leverage over Florida Prep could present a security threat to the state, Jeremy Redfern, deputy press secretary at the Florida governor’s office, later told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“We do not believe that a school where the Chinese Communist Party has a controlling interest can instill the values of citizenship and service to the United States,” he said. “This school represents a direct threat to public safety and the interests of Florida.”
The move comes amid increasing concern among both state and federal lawmakers that China’s accelerating campaign to buy up land close to U.S. military assets. Montana’s governor banned China and other hostile foreign countries from investing in agricultural land, critical infrastructure, or homes near military property on May 4.
The U.S. Treasury Department proposed a new rule Friday expanding the government’s authority to review and block or amend foreign sales after the Air Force warned against the Chinese-domiciled Fufeng Group’s $700 million proposal to construct a plant just 12 miles from a base in South Dakota.
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