(NewsNation) — Demands to restrict Chinese companies seeking to buy U.S. property have grown louder amid concerns about the private businesses’ ties to China’s military.
The U.S. Department of Defense keeps a list of companies that it believes support the “modernization” of China’s People’s Liberation Army by developing advanced technologies. The list — which was most recently expanded in October — serves as a way to track activity that could have roots in the Chinese government.
Its unclassified portion of the list, which is published in the Federal Register, references 60 companies doing business in the United States, including aircraft and heavy machinery companies as well as those focused on offshore oil, railway nuclear power and semiconductors.
Concerns range from fears about compromising intellectual property to the threat of food insecurity if foreign nations buy up U.S. agricultural land.
As anxiety builds, cities and states have debated ways to regulate foreign land purchases on a local level — something the federal government has had its eye on for the better part of a decade.
Recent sightings of suspected Chinese surveillance objects flying over the Midwest and Alaska have renewed those concerns over Chinese influence, particularly near U.S. military bases.
Private military companies can be a way for nations to expand their power and reach without using actual military forces, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
As one of the United States’ top power rivals, China’s so-called Military-Civil Fusion strategy threatens international science and technology collaboration and fair global business practices, according to the State Department.
Earlier numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show that foreign ownership of U.S. agricultural land alone doubled from 2009 to 2019.
That land is mostly concentrated in Texas, Maine and Alabama, with investors from Canada having the most foreign ownership, according to the USDA.
China accounted for more than 383,000 acres of U.S. land, about 0.9% of foreign-owned property as of 2021’s year-end.
The U.S. Department of Defense did not immediately respond to NewsNation’s emails seeking comment. It’s unclear whether officials have made additions to the list of Chinese military companies since it was last updated last fall.