Foreign nationals or companies would have to get a greenlight from the U.S. government before buying land near eight U.S. military bases under a new rule proposed by the Biden administration on Friday.
The move comes after a Chinese company planned to build a milling plant near an Air Force base in Grand Forks, North Dakota, until the Pentagon and lawmakers raised objections and local officials scrapped the project.
Under the proposed rule change from the Treasury Department’s Office of Investment Security, the U.S. government would need to approve any attempt by foreign firms or citizens to purchase property within 100 miles of the base in North Dakota and seven other bases in California, Texas, South Dakota, Iowa and Arizona.
The proposed rule, which was published in the Federal Registry, would grant greater authority to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which reviews commercial deals between American companies and foreign investors for any potential impact on national security, to examine land sales near the eight military installations.
The Chinese firm Fufeng Group last year bought 370 acres for a corn-milling plant that would have been located about 12 miles from Grand Forks Air Force Base. The planned $700 million plant would have created more than 200 direct jobs, according to local officials.
The Air Force in February wrote to officials in North Dakota saying the military considered the planned plant a security risk.
After the letter, local officials switched course and voted to end their agreement with Fufeng.
The Grand Forks base is home to the 319th Air Base Wing, including surveillance drones, and oversees satellites in the U.S. military’s communication network.
Eric Chutorash, chief operating officer of Fufeng USA, the U.S. subsidiary of Fufeng Group, dismissed criticism that the plant could be used to conduct surveillance on the Air Force base, CNBC previously reported.