Senators Approve Amendments to Ban China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia from Purchasing US Farmland and Screen High-Tech Investments Abroad

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US Senators Approve Amendments to Restrict Farmland Purchases and High-Tech Investments by China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia

In a significant move, US senators have unanimously approved bipartisan amendments to the annual defense policy bill that aim to ban China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia from purchasing farmland in the United States. The amendments would also enable the review of American investment in high-tech ventures on foreign adversary soil.

The measure, which was passed by a 91-7 vote, directs the president to halt or waive agricultural land transactions by these four nations and requires the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to evaluate any such deals. Notably, the committee already reviews other inbound investment transactions.

Concerns regarding national security have been the driving force behind these amendments. The US Department of Agriculture reported that of the 40 million acres of US forest and farmland owned by foreign investors, China accounted for less than 1%, or approximately 383,935 acres, at the end of 2021. Nonetheless, several incidents have prompted lawmakers to take action, such as the purchase of 300 acres near a North Dakota Air Force base by a Chinese-owned corn processing company and the presence of a Chinese surveillance balloon over Montana, which is home to numerous US nuclear missiles.

The co-sponsors of this amendment include Republican Senators Mike Rounds, Steve Daines, John Kennedy, Joni Ernst, Cynthia Lummis, Ted Cruz, Kevin Cramer, John Hoeven, Katie Britt, and Democratic Senators Jon Tester and Sherrod Brown.

Senators also voted in favor of an amendment that screens American investment in high-tech sectors, such as artificial intelligence, advanced semiconductors, satellite communications, and quantum computing, in China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia. The amendment, which was passed by a vote of 91-6, seeks to counter the economic espionage tactics employed by the Chinese government.

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The annual defense bill effectively acknowledges the need to address the technological competition faced by the United States, particularly with the People’s Republic of China. Unchecked offshoring of supply chains in industries and locations with national security implications poses a significant risk.

Accordingly, the Casey-Cornyn amendment, sponsored by Democratic Senator Bob Casey and Republican Senator John Cornyn, requires US corporations and other entities to notify the Secretary of the Treasury before engaging in deals involving these high-tech sectors abroad. While foreign investments coming into the US are thoroughly screened, there is currently no federal mechanism to regulate the investments made by American companies outside the country.

It is worth noting that US outbound investment reached $6.58 trillion by the end of 2022, with the largest proportion flowing into the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Ireland, and Canada. The Casey-Cornyn amendment intends to ensure greater transparency and scrutiny in investments in high-tech sectors to prevent the exploitation of US research and innovation by foreign adversaries.

These amendments reflect the senators’ commitment to safeguarding national security and food supply chains by protecting sensitive military sites and controlling investments in strategic industries. By imposing restrictions on farmland purchases and high-tech investments from China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia, the US is taking proactive measures to mitigate potential risks and maintain its competitive edge in the global landscape.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Related to the Above News

Why did US senators approve amendments to restrict farmland purchases by China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia?

US senators approved these amendments in order to address concerns regarding national security. The purchase of farmland by foreign investors, especially those from adversarial nations, raised concerns about potential threats to sensitive military sites and food supply chains in the United States.

What is the main objective of the amendments?

The amendments aim to ban China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia from purchasing farmland in the United States and to review American investment in high-tech sectors on foreign adversary soil. These measures are intended to protect national security and prevent the exploitation of US resources and innovation by foreign adversaries.

How will the amendments be implemented?

The amendments direct the president to halt or waive agricultural land transactions by the four nations mentioned, and they require the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to evaluate any such deals. Additionally, US corporations and other entities will be required to notify the Secretary of the Treasury before engaging in high-tech sector deals abroad.

What prompted lawmakers to take action?

Lawmakers were prompted to take action due to various incidents that raised concerns about national security. These included the purchase of land near a North Dakota Air Force base by a Chinese-owned company and the presence of a Chinese surveillance balloon over Montana, which houses US nuclear missiles.

How do these amendments address technological competition?

The amendments recognize the need to address technological competition, especially from the People's Republic of China. By restricting investments in high-tech sectors and ensuring greater transparency and scrutiny, the amendments aim to safeguard US research, innovation, and supply chains from exploitation by foreign adversaries.

Are there any bipartisan efforts behind these amendments?

Yes, the amendments were approved unanimously, demonstrating bipartisan support. The co-sponsors of the farmland purchase amendment include Republican Senators Mike Rounds, Steve Daines, John Kennedy, Joni Ernst, Cynthia Lummis, Ted Cruz, Kevin Cramer, John Hoeven, Katie Britt, and Democratic Senators Jon Tester and Sherrod Brown. The amendment on high-tech investments was sponsored by Democratic Senator Bob Casey and Republican Senator John Cornyn.

Are there any existing regulations on inbound investment transactions?

Yes, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States already reviews inbound investment transactions. However, there is currently no federal mechanism to regulate the investments made by American companies outside the country, which is addressed by the Casey-Cornyn amendment.

What are the main industries and locations targeted by the Casey-Cornyn amendment?

The Casey-Cornyn amendment targets American investment in high-tech sectors such as artificial intelligence, advanced semiconductors, satellite communications, and quantum computing. The objective is to prevent economic espionage tactics employed by the Chinese government and protect US research and innovation.

How will these amendments impact US outbound investment?

These amendments primarily focus on regulating inbound investment and do not have a direct impact on US outbound investment. However, the scrutiny and transparency required in high-tech sector investments aim to prevent the exploitation of US resources and innovation by foreign adversaries.

What is the goal of the US in imposing these restrictions?

The goal is to mitigate potential risks to national security and maintain the US competitive edge in the global landscape. By restricting farmland purchases and high-tech investments from China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia, the US takes proactive measures to protect sensitive military sites, secure food supply chains, and counter economic espionage tactics.

Please note that the FAQs provided on this page are based on the news article published. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, it is always recommended to consult relevant authorities or professionals before making any decisions or taking action based on the FAQs or the news article.

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