Democrats hampering effort to prevent China from buying more American farmland

There is a bipartisan push in the House to bar China from buying more American farmland after business interests tied to the Communist government in Beijing have already scooped up some 200,000 acres, but a Republican-led bill is getting held up by changes sought by some Democrats.

Legislative efforts to block the Chinese from buying more American real estate is being led by Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.), who said that majority Democrats have taken out all references to the regime in Beijing by offering an amendment to an agricultural spending measure that originally blocked Chinese Communist Party from buying farmland in the U.S.

“[O]ver the last decade, we’ve seen a huge increase in the acquisition of these kinds of assets — farming in particular — by the People’s Republic of China,” he told Just The News. “And that, to me, is just a direction that, while we can, we should do all we can to stop.”

As the Chinese government continues buying up American farmland and thereby becoming further embedded in the U.S. economy, Newhouse fears that Americans will eventually “become dependent on Communist China for our agricultural production.”

“We don’t want that to happen. We want to stop that in its tracks,” the Washington Republican said.

He went on to say that recently the House Appropriations Committee adopted his amendment via a unanimous voice vote. He called that rare these days for a couple of reasons — one, it was offered by a member of the minority party; and two, the vote to pass the amendment was unanimous.

“I think that that tells us that there’s concern across the board [over] the direction that people see China taking,” said Newhouse, adding that most lawmakers in both parties don’t want to let China take control over a sizeable portion of American critical assets like Beijing has managed to do in several other nations.

But Democrats have added a wrinkle to his measure that has made it, suddenly, more problematic to some members of Congress and thus is slowing its passage.

Some members want to prohibit other countries from buying American farmland and properties including North Korea, Iran, and Russia. That said, Newhouse notes that North Korea doesn’t have the funds to purchase land in the United States, and the other countries mentioned haven’t bought any U.S. real estate in recent years — only China has done so.

“China’s got almost 200,000 acres right now in the United States,” Newhouse told the outlet. “Russia has, I think, 800.”

He went on to estimate that Iran has “just around 2,000, you know, a mere percentage of what China has.

“And the thing is, over the last couple decades, none of those countries have been buying to any degree,” he continued. “China, on the other hand, over the last decade, has been increasing dramatically — 10 times the purchases of what they had a decade ago.”

A New York Democrat, Rep. Grace Meng, said that Newhouse’s amendment will “perpetuate already rising anti-Asian hate,” which then led him to delete all mention of Chinese nationals in his measure.

But in fact, he said, Democrats appear to be making the bill far more anti-Asian by not focusing exclusively on China.

“The changes the Democrats are making, I think it’s going to water down the amendment, take the focus off of China, and it’s not going to be nearly as impactful,” Newhouse told Just The News.

“And get this, they removed any reference to the Communist government. If the goal was to make it less anti-Asian, they just, I think, narrowed it to where people are going to think about individuals and not the government,” he added.

Jon Dougherty

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