On June 11, Congressman Chip Roy (R-TX) introduced the “Securing America’s Land from Foreign Interference Act.” As he put it in a press release, the goal is “to prevent the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from owning land in the United States.” He also stated that: “Direct Chinese investment in the U.S. economy is a major threat to the American way of life and requires that we take serious action to thwart the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from ever seizing control of strategically valuable domestic assets in the U.S.” In his view, “[t]he Securing America’s Land from Foreign Interference Act will ensure that Texas’s land never comes under the control of the CCP by prohibiting the purchase of U.S. public or private real estate by any members of the CCP.”
The main text of the legislation provides:
SEC. 2. PROHIBITION ON PURCHASE OF PUBLIC OR PRIVATE REAL ESTATE LOCATED IN THE UNITED STATES BY MEMBERS OF THE CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY.
(a) In General.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the President shall take such actions as may be necessary to prohibit the purchase of public or private real estate located in the United States by members of the Chinese Communist Party.
(b) United States Defined.—The term “United States” means the several States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, Guam, the United States Virgin Islands, and any other territory or possession of the United States.
It has 10 co-sponsors, including Donald Trump-allied conservatives such as Marjorie Taylor Greene and Louie Gohmert.
It is not clear to what extent these legislators are aware of the size of the CCP, which has over 90 million members. (See these explainers on the CCP from the New York Times and the South China Morning Post.) The examples of transactions Roy provides in his press release all have greater significance than a real estate purchase by a typical CCP member:
- In Texas, a Chinese based energy company purchased more than 130,000 acres of land near Laughlin Air Force Base and is now attempting to build a wind farm to access the U.S. power grid.
- In Australia, China is the second largest foreign owner of land and a Chinese real estate company bought an Australian island and then blocked Aussie residents from living there.
- In 1993 China paid the Australian government to lease the Merredin airport for 100 years. Now China owns the airspace and Australian citizens can’t land in their own country without approval from the Chinese government.
The broad application of the legislation to all members of the CCP means that it is not necessarily calibrated with his expressed concerns.