In a shocking revelation this week, it was exposed that a Chinese billionaire and member of the Communist Party, Chen Tianqiao, stands as the second-largest foreign owner of agricultural land in the United States. The secrecy surrounding his $85 million purchase, dating back nearly a decade, has triggered a wave of concern among politicians demanding answers.
The Covert Farmland Expansion
Chen Tianqiao, a key figure in Shanda Interactive Entertainment, discreetly acquired almost 200,000 acres of farmland in Oregon in 2015, with an average cost of approximately $430 per acre, as reported by the Land Report– a magazine specializing in private land ownership in the US.
Concealed Transactions in Government Records
Strikingly, despite the substantial purchase, government records of foreign investors’ land ownership do not acknowledge Chen’s acquisition, as revealed by the Daily Mail. The opacity surrounding his farmland holdings remained intact until this week when the state publicly identified one of his companies as the beneficial owner of the property.
The Enigmatic Billionaire’s Profile
At 50 years old, Chen Tianqiao is not just a landowner; he also possesses a $39 million Manhattan townhouse and a $26 million estate in Los Angeles. His ties to the Communist Party began at the age of 18, and he has ascended through the executive ranks, adding a layer of complexity to his farmland acquisitions.
Political Backlash and National Security Concerns
The recent exposure has fueled outrage among politicians, with New York Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik accusing the Biden administration of neglect in safeguarding US agricultural land. Stefanik asserts that Communist China’s land purchases are strategic moves to undermine America’s sovereignty, agricultue industry, military installations, and rural communities.
Advocacy for Land SEcurity
Stefanik’s concerns echo sentiments from last year when she, along with other Congress members, penned a letter to the US Department of Agriculture. The missive urged heightened vigilance over foreign ownership of farmland, emphasizing the critical link between food security and national security.
Farmer and Senator’s Call to Action
Adding to the growing chorus, Montana farmer and Senator Jon Tester has renewed demands for Congress to prioritize and fortify US land security. The implications of unchecked foreign ownership on food production and overall national resilience are at the forefront of Tester’s concerns.
In conclusion, the revelation of Chen Tianqiao’s clandestine farmland empire has ignited a broader discourse on the need for transparency and regulatory measures to safeguard the nation’s vital agricultural assets. As the spotlight intensifies on such acquisitions, the question of how foreign investment aligns with national interests takes center stage in the ongoing dialogue about land security in the United States.
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