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China owns less than 1% of US farmland

The bill seeks to limit purchases from citizens or businesses from countries that are considered “foreign adversaries,” including Russia, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba and China.

The proposed legislation would ban these groups from buying or leasing Indiana farmland, mineral or water rights and property within 10 miles of an armory or military maintenance facility or within 50 miles of a military base. The sole exemption is for students attending university in Indiana, who would still be able to rent an apartment.

As of the end of 2021, Chinese investors owned 383,935 acres of American soil, according to a report on foreign-held land from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Now, while Chinese holdings account for just 0.9% of total foreign-owned U.S. land and far less than what other countries like Canada and the U.K. own, lawmakers have concerns that China could potentially gain control over the U.S. food and energy supply.

NPR Illinois says USDA data shows over 80% of Chinese-owned land is held by major meatpacker Smithfield Foods, and a billionaire named Sun Guangxin who purchased 100,000 acres in Texas for a wind farm (which was later halted by a state law) through his two companies Brazos Highland Properties and Harvest Texas.

Some also fear these acquisitions could be too close to military installations. Craig Singleton, China program deputy director and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies told NPR Illinois there are concerns Chinese telecommunications equipment could be used to disrupt U.S. military communications.

He says it might be better to pause Chinese purchases now “rather than wait years before we determine that this equipment or these purchases are being used for other purposes.”

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Critics say the bill could promote discrimination

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana says the bill will punish immigrants from the prohibited countries who have lived legally in the U.S. for decades since then.

“You are telling them they are no longer welcome here, except as an employee of someone else,” ACLU executive director Chris Daley told WTHR.

Singleton also told NPR Illinois that blanket bans "run the risk of feeding into broader anti-Asian sentiment and xenophobia."

If the legislation goes into effect, Indiana would join several other states, including Florida, Virginia and North Dakota, that have passed laws restricting the ability of Chinese nationals to buy property.

Winnie Tang, an American citizen who moved from China 45 years ago and lives in Miami, told The Washington Post these laws remind her of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 — a decade-long ban on Chinese laborers immigrating to the U.S..

“My face is Chinese,” Tang said. “So that means in the future, if I want to buy any property they could use this law to force me to show ID to prove I’m a citizen and not related to the Chinese government … This law gives people the right to discriminate against me openly.”

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Serah Louis is a reporter with Moneywise.com. She enjoys tackling topical personal finance issues for young people and women and covering the latest in financial news.

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