A dual foundation has assured rampant American prosperity: Cheap land, expensive labor. With the advent of the Immigration Act of 1965 authored by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), President Ronald Reagan’s Immigration Amnesty of 1986, and the Ill-advised NAFTA Treaty of 1994, that formula hasn’t held true.
When there was not enough labor, employers had to pay more rather than simply importing massive amounts of cheap labor from countries with little in the way of worker protections. The same laws allowing for a massive influx of cheap labor have also destabilized the American real estate market: More buyers means more demand means higher prices for those looking to buy a home.
There are myriad of social consequences from this, chief among them that family formation is more expensive and thus less attainable for the average young American worker in the 21st century than it was possible in years past.
But beyond this, there is the problem of allowing foreign nationals to own real estate in the United States, a practice that is outlawed in a number of countries. Where foreign nationals are allowed to own real estate, there are often restrictions on where they can buy and how much they can own.
The reasons for this hardly needs explaining, but we will do so anyway: First, the citizens of a nation have the first claim on the land within the national boundaries. Second, it is potentially dangerous to allow too much of a nation’s land to fall into the hands of foreign investors.
Currently, 30 million acres of American farmland is owned by foreign interests, fully 2.2 percent of all U.S. farmland. For context, that’s an area roughly the size of Mississippi or Pennsylvania These are effectively absentee landlords who own some of the best and most productive real estate in the United States.
For its part, China owned 191,000 acres worth $1.9 billion as of 2019. It is estimated they now own over 200,000 acres as of mid-year. This might not sound like a lot, but Chinese ownership of American farmland has exploded dramatically over the last decade. Indeed, there has been a tenfold expansion of Chinese ownership of farmland in the United States in just nine years.
Six states — Hawaii, Iowa, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Dakota and Oklahoma — currently ban foreign ownership of farmland. Perhaps other states need to join in enacting similar bans.
Massive Chinese investment in American farmland is troubling for one very obvious reason: It puts the food security of the nation in the hands of a hostile foreign power. But there is also the social cost of allowing foreign buyers who have effectively unlimited resources to compete on the real estate market with smaller domestic buyers.
It is understandable if no one reading this has any tears to shed for Big Agriculture, but the real victims of this are smaller landholders, the family farmers. For those concerned about environmental issues, ask yourself who is more likely to practice good stewardship of the land — American farmers or Chinese bureaucrats thousands of miles away.
Farmland is not the only target of Chinese investors. In 2013, Shuanghui Group, the largest pork producer in the world and the largest meat producer in China, purchased U.S. pork producer Smithfield Foods Inc. for almost $4.7 billion. Back then, the focus was on the livestock. Forbes called the purchase “a game-changer for pork trade.”
“No other combination [of companies] has such a great opportunity,” Zhijun Yang, managing director of Shuanghui, said to The Washington Post that same year.
Here’s what the mainstream media missed at the time: Shuanghui didn’t just acquire the livestock and processing plants. The Chinese conglomerate also snatched up more than 146,000 acres of farmland across the United States, worth a staggering $500 million, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.
Here’s why they did it — and what it all means for American farmers: China is in dire need of both food and farms.
Moderate to severe soil degradation affects more than 40 percent of the country, exacerbated by overuse of fertilizer, intensive grazing, and the reliance on biomass for rural energy. While the country may look huge on a map, only 11 percent of Chinese land can be farmed. When you combine that with China’s huge population of over 1.3 billion people, you’ve got a recipe for a food disaster.
The Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported in 2018 that China’s agricultural investments in other nations had grown more than tenfold since 2009. The Communist Party has actively supported investments in foreign agriculture as part of its “One Belt One Road” economic development plans, aiming to control a greater piece of China’s food supply chain.
“The current trend in the U.S. is leading us toward the creation of a Chinese-owned agricultural land monopoly,” Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) warned during a recent House Appropriations hearing.
The committee unexpectedly adopted Newhouse’s amendment to the Agriculture-FDA spending bill (H.R. 4356 (117)) that would block any new agricultural purchases by companies that are wholly or partly controlled by the Chinese government and bar Chinese-owned farms from tapping federal support programs.
That move followed a contentious debate over the potential consequences for Asian Americans if Congress adopted a provision aimed squarely at China. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) said that if the amendment was about national security, buyers from other countries should also face similar restrictions. “It would perpetuate already rising anti-Asian hate,” Meng warned at the markup.
For his part, Newhouse claimed opposing viewpoints would be able to find a compromise position. However, Meng’s defense of China suggests a sinister Fascist Democrat support for China, which the U.S. is facing in a new Cold War that began with the Trump tariffs three years ago and which were met by China’s release of the CCP virus on an unsuspecting word.
China cannot afford to wait for its U.S. farmland to produce the needs the largest country on Earth, population-wise, must have.
Importers are adding to the mountain of U.S. corn already headed to China with the purchase of 1.36 million tons of corn for delivery in the marketing year that opens September 1. The purchase, reported by private exporters to USDA, was worth $400 million at current futures prices.
Some 11.38 million tons of U.S. corn have been shipped to China during the current marketing year, and an additional 11.986 million tons have been purchased and await shipment, according to USDA data. The world’s largest agricultural importer, China is forecast to buy a record $31.5 billion of U.S. farm exports this fiscal year.
China, which is rebuilding its hog herd after an epidemic of African swine fever, has imported vast quantities of grain and soybeans so far this year. The spate of purchases has prompted speculation that either the country does not have as large a domestic supply as it reports or the reserves are in poor condition. China is the second-largest corn producer, behind the United States, and is credited with a stockpile of 200 million tons, equal to two-thirds of the global totals.
Precious little is written in the major media in the United States about this epidemic of Chinese ownership of American land, food grains and real estate. Even less is written about the influence and leverage that the People’s Republic of China (PAC) has within the corporate media.
This often takes the form of the corporate directors of media firms having close financial ties to China that are little known to the American public. The U.S. dollars making that connection creates a financial incentive to whitewash the actions of the People’s Republic of China, both domestically and abroad.
Recall the way that the media bristled at calling COVID-19 “the China Virus,” the CCP virus,” or “ the Wuhan virus.” There is a reason for this beyond simple political correctness. Many in the upper echelons of the corporate media have a vested interest in protecting the reputation of PRC.
Take Carlos Slim, the largest shareholder of The New York Times, who controls about a third of the newspaper’s board. His other ventures have very close ties to Chinese firms that are directly tied to the Chinese Government. His Giant Motors is engaged in joint operations with China’s JAC Motors to penetrate the Latin American market.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO and owner of the Washington Post, has many of Amazon’s biggest-selling products, such as the Echo and the Kindle, manufactured in China by low-wage, low-skill or even slave labor.
Bezos’ cheerleading for the People’s Republic of China is much more explicit than that of Slim: The Washington Post includes a supplement called “China Watch” which is written directly by the Chinese government’s official media arm.
CNN is a property of Warner Media, which is very closely tied to the People’s Republic of China. They have a $50 million investment deal with the PRC. Specifically, it is an investment in China Media Capital, a private company (in as much as such things exist in the PRC) subject to the censorship of the Chinese government.
It is worth remembering how CNN fawned over the Chinese reaction to the CCP-created virus in the early days of the pandemic.
Both MSNBC and NBC are owned by NBC Universal who have a partnership with China’s state-run media, Xinhua, to cooperate on international news. The U.S. State Department has identified Xinhua as “foreign missions,” effectively Chinese propaganda outfits with no independence from the Chinese government.
ABC arguably has the strongest ties with the Chinese economy. The Chinese government and state-owned enterprises provided significant support for the $3.6 trillion cost of building a Disney World in Shanghai. ESPN, another ABC property, told on-air staff not to criticize the CCP or Communist China regarding an NBA coach’s disparaging of the league’s relationship with China and, where possible, to avoid the topic entirely.
Bloomberg is heavily invested in China, which is perhaps why Michael Bloomberg refuses to even refer to the People’s Republic of China as a dictatorship. China Radio International is effectively the Chinese equivalent of Radio Free Europe. It broadcasts PRC propaganda all around the world, including in the United States. Bloomberg provides on-air channels in the U.S. for the CCP’s propaganda.
Beginning in 2012, the People’s Republic of China began looking for ways to penetrate the American film market. Specifically, China has sought to create inroads into owning American film distribution. This effectively allows them a veto over films that might run contrary to the PRC’s goals for its image abroad.
The Trump administration in 2019 announced that five state-run Chinese “media” companies would no longer be recognized as such, but would instead be referred to as foreign embassies, which is their proper name.
Most of the actions taken by the Trump administration to silence China’s influence in the U.S. have been rescinded by Joe Biden and his woke minions.
It is unsurprising that the People’s Republic of China would do anything within its power to expand its global reach and to influence public opinion abroad, especially at a time when more and more Westerners are becoming skeptical of the relationship between the PRC and the free world.
However, what is surprising is how little the United States and other Western governments have done to prevent Chinese penetration of their economy and culture.
It may or may not be troubling when foreign nationals own real estate and media within the United States. There are solid arguments in either direction.
However, one would be hard pressed to make the case that allowing any influence in the American real estate or media markets by the People’s Republic of China — a rogue state by virtually any definition, the chief rival of the United States internationally and an enemy of liberty around the world — is a mistake of potentially world-changing proportions.
By: Mike Nichols
Mike Nichols is a conservative, a patriot, U.S. Army veteran, behavioral therapist, political enthusiast, sports fan and writer living with his beautiful wife Liz in the Heartland. He has a regular blog at https://mikenichols.substack.com and a Facebook presence at https://www.facebook.com/AmericasConservativeVoice.Substack.”