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Lawmakers to propose greater oversight of Chinese land acquisitions in America

U.S. lawmakers are set to introduce legislation to expand government foreign investment reviews of land purchases by buyers from China and other foreign countries.

Two U.S. lawmakers are set to introduce legislation on Thursday to significantly expand government foreign investment reviews of real estate purchases by buyers from China and other foreign countries posing national security concerns.

Representative Elissa Slotkin, a Democrat, and Republican Blake Moore are proposing to expand the authority of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) over foreign real estate purchases.

"We need to have official national security experts review these land purchases with clear-eyed expertise, and without fear or favor," Slotkin said.


Congress in 2018 passed legislation to expand CFIUS oversight to explicitly include real estate transactions in close proximity to key airports, maritime ports and some military installations.

CFIUS is a Treasury-led inter-agency committee that reviews some transactions involving foreign investment in the United States. The Treasury in May proposed to expand the number of military installations covered.

The planned legislation seeks to expand CFIUS' jurisdiction to review U.S. real estate acquisitions by designated "foreign entities of concern," including China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea, of 100 acres or more or $1 million or more in value or if CFIUS determines transactions were structured to avoid review. It would also scrutinize existing real estate holdings.

In July, a group of 15 House lawmakers introduced legislation to expand CFIUS reviews to nearly all Chinese purchases and intensify CFIUS scrutiny of Chinese acquisitions around national security sites, critical infrastructure, and farmland.

U.S. senators have separately been pushing legislation to limit who can own American farmland.

A U.S. appeals court last month blocked Florida from enforcing a ban on Chinese citizens owning homes or land in the state against two Chinese nationals who were in the process of buying property when the law was adopted.

Lawmakers in several Republican-led states including Texas, Louisiana, and Alabama are considering similar restrictions on Chinese citizens owning property. China's foreign ministry said last year that such laws "violate the rules of market economy and international trade rules."

In October, Arkansas ordered Syngenta to sell 160 acres of farmland in the U.S. state within two years on Tuesday because the company is Chinese-owned, drawing a sharp rebuke from the global seeds producer.

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