(NewsNation) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed a series of bills intended to counteract the influence of the Chinese Communist Party in Florida.
The bills specifically target possible corporate espionage by China as well as the potential of China using higher education as a way to gather intelligence or for other illicit purposes.
One bill would restrict the Florida government from contracting with certain foreign countries or individuals and restricts the sale of agricultural land to China, as well as to those affiliated with China. It also requires any electronic health records be stored in the U.S. or Canada.
A second piece of legislation makes it illegal for state colleges and universities, along with their employees, to solicit or accept gifts from educational institutions in foreign countries of concern. Colleges and universities are also prohibited from participating in grants or collaborations with foreign countries of concern, without authorization by the Board of Governor’s or State Board of Education.
Private universities that are owned by a foreign country of concern are prohibited from taking part in the state’s school choice scholarship program.
The final bill prohibits the use of any social application owned by a foreign country from being used on a government-issued device. TikTok, owned by parent company ByteDance which is based in China, has come under scrutiny from lawmakers across the U.S. and Florida is just the latest state to try to crack down on the app.
“I’m proud to sign this legislation to stop the purchase of our farmland and land near our military bases and critical infrastructure by Chinese agents, to stop sensitive digital data from being stored in China, and to stop CCP influence in our education system from grade school to grad school. We are following through on our commitment to crack down on Communist China.”
Lawmakers have been increasingly concerned with threats from China as tensions with the U.S. have risen in recent months. The discovery of a Chinese spy balloon over the U.S. and concerns over the popularity of TikTok, along with Chinese entities buying land near military or government installations have all been in the spotlight as potential threats to national security.