Exclusive — Kristi Noem on Push to Restrict Chinese Land Purchases: ‘This Is a National Security Issue’

In this screenshot from the RNC’s livestream of the 2020 Republican National Convention, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem addresses the virtual convention on August 26, 2020. The convention is being held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic but will include speeches from various locations including Charlotte, North Carolina and Washington, …
Republican National Committee via Getty Images

South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem told Breitbart News exclusively this weekend that she is undeterred by criticism from special interests concerning a proposal she is pushing to restrict the ability of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) entities and other foreign entities from buying land in her state, noting this is a matter paramount to national security.

Noem appeared this weekend on Breitbart News Saturday on SiriusXM 125 the Patriot Channel to discuss a report from last week that exposed several agricultural groups in South Dakota stating they were concerned with her proposal without providing specifics.

“I think all of us can agree as Americans that China shouldn’t be buying up land in the United States. They are an enemy,” Noem said. “They are an evil government built on Communism and taking away freedom. That isn’t something we should allow to have a presence here in our great country.”

Noem’s bill is currently being considered by the South Dakota state legislature and has prominent sponsors in both the State House and State Senate. What it would do is create a state-level version of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). Currently, CFIUS is a federal board that approves or disapproves of foreign entities engaging in major U.S. transactions. Noem’s proposal would establish a CFIUS-South Dakota, or CFIUS-SD, which would review proposed transactions in the state where foreign entities including but not limited to Chinese entities seek to purchase land. The board, if established — which would require the legislature to pass Noem’s proposal — could block such land sales as it sees fit.

Noem has been taking several steps to directly confront the CCP, including, most recently, being the nation’s first governor to adopt a ban of using TikTok on state devices. In several other states, both GOP and Democrat governors followed her, and then the federal government did the same at the end of last year. Noem’s next move, she noted in the interview, is to block China from buying South Dakota farmland—an idea that governors such as Texas’s Greg Abbott and Florida’s Ron DeSantis have followed her on as they consider similar proposals in their states.

“We took action a couple months ago to ban TikTok on state devices, and we saw many other states follow that lead. And also now, the federal government took action to ban that device that China is using to collect information on our citizens,” Noem said. “Then, I took it a step further with our proposing this bill that I’d like our legislature to pass. It says any land purchased by a foreign entity in South Dakota will come to the CFIUS board, where they will evaluate if it’s an enemy of the United States of America, including China, and then the governor will make a decision on if we want to reject that purchase and not allow it to happen.”

LISTEN TO SOUTH DAKOTA GOV. KRISTI NOEM ON BREITBART NEWS SATURDAY:

Noem noted, too, during the interview that the Chinese are particularly interested in land near American Air Force bases, including a recent purchase Chinese entities made in neighboring North Dakota. Just last year, South Dakota was picked as home to the forthcoming B21 bomber at Ellsworth Air Force Base just outside Rapid City, South Dakota, which is why Noem is trying to get ahead of any Chinese efforts to acquire land in her state.

“This is an issue that came up months ago when we saw a land purchase in North Dakota, our neighbors to the north, where a Chinese entity bought up land next to their Air Force Base, saying they were going to build a corn plant, but there wasn’t enough even corn grown in that area to sustain a facility like that, and it came under question,” Noem said. “I think we all agree that we shouldn’t allow our enemies to have a presence, especially close to our national security infrastructure. We have Ellsworth Air Force base, which is going to be the home of the B21s. We want to make sure that those who have the chance to purchase land here in our state love America and that they want to do good, not do us harm.”

Noem acknowledged the opposition from farming interest groups, telling Breitbart News that the push has “been a bit of a struggle just because we do have opposition to the bill” and that some of the opposition is from “our friends in agriculture.”

“I think everybody knows that I’m a lifelong farmer and rancher,” Noem said. “The lieutenant governor is as well. It’s our number one industry in South Dakota. We would never do anything that would hurt that industry or our ability to grow our own food in this country and provide for the ability to take care of our farmers and ranchers.”

But, she added, the issue is a national security priority—and the special interests raising concerns with the plan have not been specific about them and have no alternative plans to stop China from acquiring South Dakota farmland.

“We also agree that this is a national security issue and that protecting America is important and that this has been a real threat to our country, and with the B21 coming to South Dakota, we are a target for exactly the kinds of activities that China is doing in other places, such as buying up land and assets and from other countries that hate us,” Noem said.

“What’s been interesting about the debate so far on this bill I’m proposing with help from a couple legislators,” she continued, “is that the opposition has not come to the table and given us other solutions and other things they think would work that would give us this kind of accountability and make sure that we have a review of land that’s purchased in South Dakota. They haven’t given us articulated reasons as to why they’re opposed to the bill, so for me, this is an issue the public has brought to me for many, many months. They care about this.”

Noem is not backing down and is fighting to make sure the legislature adopts her proposal so she can stop China from entering South Dakota with land purchases.

“This is important to the citizens of South Dakota,” Noem said. “We need a solution to make sure we know who’s buying land in our state and we know that they’re friendly to the United States and that they actually want to do business here not harm us. We’ve seen that other countries have purchased large amounts of land in other parts of the country; 40 million acres of ag land in the United States is held by foreign countries. It’s not as much of a problem in South Dakota, but South Dakota can be in front of this and make sure we’re only selling land to, and purchases are only going to people who want to help our state and our country.”

More from Noem’s latest interview with Breitbart News is forthcoming.

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