Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) promised to support legislation that would make it illegal for residents of China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea to own property in Texas.
The bill, which was introduced two months ago by Republican state Senator Lois Kolkhorst, says that residents, corporations, and govt. agencies of the four countries “may not purchase or otherwise gain title to real property” in the state. Abbott said on Sunday that he will support the bill, even though lawmakers have not yet cast a vote on it.
Kolkhorst noted in a statement given to the Center Square that “the previous few years have seen more Texans worried by the rising acquisition of land by mostly Chinese interests. Many Texans are alarmed by the fact that some foreign organizations are increasingly buying up land in Texas. Comparatively, as an American, try to purchase land close to a Chinese military installation and observe the results. There, it would never occur, and here, it shouldn’t occur. The passage of this legislation provides certain fundamental protections to guarantee the continued possession of Texas land by Texans.”
Following legislation approved two years ago that prohibited contracts with foreign firms related to key infrastructure like cybersecurity systems and energy grids, it is possible to prohibit some foreign entities from owning land in Texas.
According to a report from the Department of Agriculture, Texas now has the most agricultural land that is owned by foreigners of any other state. 3.1% of the total land area in the Lone Star State was made up of more than 4.7 million acres of agricultural land owned by foreigners. The quantity of land under foreign control increased by 6% between 2019 and 2020.
Less than 1% of acres held by foreigners in the United States are owned by Chinese corporations. Approximately 32% of agricultural and non-agricultural land is owned by Canadian investors, while 31% of foreign ownership of land is held by citizens of other allies including the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
The concerns to national security posed by Chinese purchases of agricultural land have frequently been mentioned by officials. The purchase of farmland close to Ellsworth Air Force Base worries South Dakota lawmakers, who recently tried to block Chinese organizations from buying land in the state. Chinese food business Fufeng Group’s purchase of 300 acres close to Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota, where some of the country’s most secure drone technology is based, last year sparked suspicions of espionage among law enforcement.
Ron DeSantis, the Republican Governor of Florida, has similarly pledged to stop Chinese companies from buying land in the Sunshine State.
The Biden administration launched a probe into the Chinese telecom giant Huawei last year due to worries that cell towers using the company’s equipment were sending information to the communist country about military facilities and missile silos. The importation of some technology deemed to be a danger to national security will be prohibited by a final order issued by the Federal Communications Commission two months ago, which will affect Huawei, ZTE, Hikvision, and Dahua.
According to a National Association of Realtors research, Chinese companies made about 6% of all foreign real estate purchases between April 2021 and March 2022, excluding commercial and agricultural property. Texas accounted for up to 8% of residential properties bought by foreigners.