As tensions between the US and China increase, the newest front of division had been in the air, accompanying balloons claimed to be spy vehicles.
But there is much happening on the ground, literally. A dozen US states have been looking to forbid sales of real estate to Chinese nationals or companies.
Texas is one example, according to a report from Agence France-Presse (AFP).
“The US state of Texas is considering barring Chinese citizens from buying property on national security grounds — and as tensions with Beijing rise other states may follow suit. The Texas proposal also would bar Russians, Iranians and North Koreans from owning real estate. But the principal target appears to be Chinese nationals.”
There are 28.8 million people in the state. Of them, 1.4 million, or just under 5%, are Asian, said AFP, whether US citizens with Asian heritage or people who have green cards and permanent residence status. Just shy of 250,000 are Chinese.
China is a significant trading partner for the state, according to US government data cited by the Texas state government. As of the latest data, which is from 2019, 3.3% of Texas exports go to the country. That was down 34% from 2018.
But while economics is an important subject, so is national, and state, security, with foreign national purchases of land, often agricultural, in proximity to military bases.
“’We don’t want to have holdings by hostile nations,’ Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida said in a news conference last month,” according to the New York Times. “Gov. Glenn Youngkin of Virginia made it part of his State of the Commonwealth speech soon after, urging lawmakers in his state to prevent ‘dangerous foreign entities’ tied to the Chinese government from purchasing farmland.”
And there is also concern about agricultural land for its own sake. Last year in California, a bill that passed both the state assembly and senate, but that wasn’t signed into law, “would prohibit a foreign government from purchasing, acquiring, leasing, or holding an interest, as defined, in agricultural land within the State of California.”
The prohibition wouldn’t have applied to any land purchased before 2023.
“In order to secure the integrity of California’s agricultural land due to the effects it has on global food security, and in order to address the potential of foreign government control of California’s agricultural land and natural resources, it is necessary for this act to take effect immediately,” it further read.
But the Texas bill is constructed differently. It would apply to individuals, even if not connected with a government, and would extend even to purchasing a home.
Such bills potentially raise a number of legal issues, such as discrimination against groups based on race or ethnic background and also the federal government’s primary role in managing relations with other countries.
China has criticized such bills, as Reuters reported.
“’Generalizing the concept of national security and politicising economic, trade and investment issues violate the rules of market economy and international trade rules,’ spokesperson Mao Ning said at a regular press briefing.”
“I want to stress that China-U.S. economic and trade cooperation is mutually beneficial in nature. Over the years, Chinese enterprises have invested in the United States and made important contributions to promoting domestic employment and economic development in the United States,” said Mao.