Sen. Tommy Tuberville introduced Tuesday – along with Ark. Sen. Tom Cotton – a bill to prohibit members of the Chinese Communist Party from purchasing public or private land in the U.S.
The bill, called the Securing America’s Land from Foreign Interference Act, would also set penalties for foreign purchases that do not comply with federal reporting requirements.
“We cannot continue giving our top adversary a foot in the door to purchase land in the United States and undermine our national security,” Tuberville said in a statement.
The issue of Chinese investments in U.S. agriculture over the last 10 years has become an area of concern for some who feel the purchases might exert influence over U.S. supply chains and become a national security issue.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Chinese investor holdings of U.S. agricultural land stood at less than 200,000 acres in 2000. It then exploded, from 13,720 acres in 2010 to 352,140 acres in 2020. Alabama currently has the third-highest amount of foreign-owned agricultural land in the U.S., at about 1.8 million acres.
International investors currently hold interest in nearly 37.6 million acres of US. agricultural land, according to the USDA.
The bill would bar or any member of the Chinese Communist Party, as well as any non-U.S. citizen “acting for or on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party,” to purchase real estate in the United States.
Senate Democrats and Republicans have drawn attention to the issue recently, saying that Chinese land purchases near U.S. military installations, such as one in North Dakota, should be looked on with concern because of possible intelligence gathering.
Meanwhile, last year and in 2020, Tuberville purchased stock options in Alibaba, known as the Amazon of China, whose founder, Jack Ma, has ties to the Chinese Communist Party.
Through a spokeswoman, the senator said the purchases were made by his financial advisor and that Tuberville had no day-to-day involvement in his stock trades when AL.com asked about the transactions at the time.
The most recent purchase was made after Tuberville told his advisor to sell his Alibaba shares.
Ma, who is a member of the Chinese Communist Party, reportedly developed a propaganda app on behalf of the Chinese government.