It isn’t often I’d applaud an American leader following the lead of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, but in this case, I’ll make an exception.
On Tuesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis gave the first news conference of his second gubernatorial term. Speaking from Coconut Jack’s Waterfront Grille in Bonita Springs, Florida, DeSantis addressed the importance of “protecting Florida,” outlining the state’s plans for environmental conservation.
Gov. DeSantis Unveils the Future of Conservation in Florida https://t.co/NojvKw7MZH
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) January 10, 2023
Expressing a desire “to leave Florida to God better than we found it,” DeSantis signed an executive order aimed at the following:
- Pledging $3.5 billion over four years for conservation
- Directs DEP to identify and prioritize strategies to expedite water quality restoration in Indian River Lagoon
- Directs DEP to work with legislature on expanding wastewater grant program, to include non-point sources and agriculture runoff
- Directs South Florida Water Management District to expedite Everglades restoration projects, including those that reduce risk of harmful discharges
In addition to the conservation efforts, DeSantis addressed the recent trend of Chinese investors “gobbling up land” in the Sunshine State. He noted the Marxist, Leninist turn of Xi Jinping during his tenure as CCP President, and expressed a desire to prevent China’s purchase of both farmland and residential property, stating:
“So, my view on our economy…in Florida is, you know, we don’t want to have holdings by hostile nations. And so, if you look at the Chinese Communist Party, they’ve been very active throughout the Western Hemisphere in gobbling up land and investing in different things.
And, you know, when they have interests that are opposed to ours and you see how they’ve wielded their authority, and especially with President Xi, who’s taken a much more Marxist, Leninist turn since he’s been ruling China, that is not in the best interests of Florida to have the Chinese Communist Party owning farmland, owning land close to military bases, which, you know, my view is – and I think there’s a broad agreement on those two – but my view is, ‘Okay, yeah, no farmland, but why would you want them buying residential developments and things like that?’ I don’t want them owning subdivisions and things like that.
I think that the issue is going to be – I think people agree with that – the issue’s going to be, yeah, obviously, if someone comes in and buys, it’s not CCP that’s signing that. These are holding companies and all that. So you’ve got to structure that in a way that will effectively police it, but yes, we do not need to have CCP influence in Florida’s economy.”
Per WFLA, DeSantis pointed out previous actions the state has taken to combat CCP influence:
“Obviously if someone comes in and buys, it’s not the CCP that’s signing this, these are holding companies and all that,” DeSantis said. “But yes, we do not need to have CCP influence in Florida’s economy,” noting that Florida had banned the Confucius Institute from Florida colleges and universities to avoid its influence, and that there needed to be a structure to block it.
“They’ve used those Confucius Institutes across the country to bring propaganda, as if universities don’t have enough problems already,” DeSantis said. “We’ve also done things to limit their ability to fund research in our universities, I think we’re going to go further than that, the legislature only went so far a couple of years ago. I think there’s an appetite to do even more,” saying that their influence was “insidious” and mentioning how Disney and other entertainment companies and even Wall Street would change things and policies to placate the CCP.
We’ve addressed the Chinese purchase of farmland in the U.S. previously. As Mike Miller noted in July:
Deborah J. Comstock, who describes herself as “a girl farmer” — she actually is a farmer — wrote in a 2020 op-ed for the Ionia Sentinel-Standard:
The goal of China’s Communist Party authorities suggest specific strategies to invest in agriculture overseas and to gain greater control over oilseed and grain products, to create policies to support facilities, equipment and inputs for agricultural production, and to create large multinational grain-trading conglomerates.
The revenues from these productions do not pass through the American commodities markets but, rather, flow through the foreign entities’ own distribution channels, directly to the home country.
This. Is. Insane. While Communist China’s ownership of farmland in America is a small part of total U.S. farmland of roughly 900 million acres, it is an increasing trend by the ChiComs. Shocked? Me, neither. So the question begs to be screamed:
Why are we selling ANY American land OR industry to CHINA?
Incredulously, as the “girl farmer” explained, many states have no regulations to stop such sales.
DeSantis appears to see the big picture, observing: “It’s a larger issue. It’s just one, I think we’re a big fish now, I think we have the 13th biggest economy in the world, if we were our own country in Florida, you know, we’re a force to be reckoned with.” Acknowledging the dangers of remaining overly intertwined with China economically, DeSantis said, “It hurts our economy and it hurts our security.”
DeSantis added: “When COVID hit, people needed all these supplies; I think like 100 percent of it was made in China. Why would you want to rely on a hostile nation for things that are integral for our quality of life and security?”
How does Justin Trudeau figure into this conversation? As noted by the Daily Mail, Canada has moved to ban foreign investors in real estate:
Earlier this year, Trudeau banned foreign investors from buying homes in the country as means to cool down their overheated housing market. Most of Canada’s foreign investors are from China and India. The ban came into effect on January 1.
Trudeau implemented the ban after immigrants pushed up property prices up 38 percent. Census data released in October revealed immigrants now make up 23 percent of the population, with most coming from Asia – causing many industry experts to posit that there is a connection.
It isn’t just Canada that’s taken note of the land gobbling, either.
The Florida governor shares similar views to countries, such as New Zealand, Australia, and Canada, which have imposed taxes on foreigner buyers purchasing property.
New Zealand, where Chinese investment has been blamed for a huge spike in home property prices, now charges a 15 percent tax to non-resident buyers.
Australia imposes a 12.6 percent tax on any foreign buyer purchasing a home valued higher than $750,000 and have been since 2017. And in Canada, the government takes 50 percent of any sale as a withholding tax.
The US, however, does not impose tax restraints on foreign buyers, according to the Wharton Business Journal of UPenn.
Perhaps this latest move by Ron DeSantis will start a trend in that direction. At a minimum, it draws some well-warranted attention to the issue.
Editor’s Note: This article has been edited to include additional remarks from Governor DeSantis and for clarity.