Chinese language, Russians might be barred from shopping for SC land

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South Carolina’s Republican-controlled Senate handed a invoice Thursday that might bar residents of “overseas adversary” nations from buying property in the state, an anti-espionage measure that critics concern will chill abroad investments over outsize considerations.

The measure accredited Thursday by a 31-5 vote would apply to residents of so-called adversarial nations on a U.S. Division of Commerce listing that at the moment consists of China, Russia, Cuba, Iran and North Korea.

The invoice is considered one of numerous like-minded measures which have arisen throughout the nation after a suspected Chinese language spy balloon not too long ago floated over U.S. territory and was introduced down off the South Carolina coast. The overflight fueled lawmakers’ worries that nefarious actors could advance surveillance efforts beneath the guise of land possession. A minimum of 11 state legislatures are contemplating related proposals.

The main sponsor of the South Carolina invoice, Senate Majority Chief Shane Massey, mentioned he was spurred to motion by a Chinese language biomedical firm’s pending $28 million buy of 500 acres close to the U.S. Military’s Cyber Command headquarters within the state. He drew a parallel between some overseas land purchases and the Trojan Horse of Greek mythology.

“We have to look inside that wood horse earlier than we let it within the gate. And there are some nations which have given us extra of a purpose to look contained in the wood horse earlier than we let it within the gate,” Massey mentioned. “These 5 have particularly given us purpose to have extra scrutiny and to be a bit of bit extra involved.”

Massey mentioned the legislation would not apply to nations if they’re faraway from the federal listing and will apply to any which might be added to it.

Democratic Sen. Dick Harpootlian, who opposed the invoice, questioned the premise {that a} Chinese language firm’s buy of land equated to “establishing a nest of spies.” Whereas acknowledging his distaste for the federal government in Beijing, he mentioned the matter would higher be left to federal officers.

“It is a bumper sticker,” Harpootlian mentioned. “This isn’t laws that’s going to enhance the standard of life for anyone on this state.”

Democratic Sen. Mike Fanning expressed concern that it might hamstring rural counties with fewer choices for outdoor funding.

Massey acknowledged that some areas are determined for financial growth however mentioned the listed nations have “earned extra scrutiny.”

The measure lets companies working within the state earlier than 2023 purchase land for enlargement with approval from the Secretary of Commerce and governor. Massey famous that it could not pressure present landowners to divest any property and solely applies to future acquisitions.

It could additionally cowl firms with partial “adversary” nation possession. Residents from such nations couldn’t collectively maintain greater than a 20% stake in a landowning firm, and no single particular person might personal over 10%.

Immigrants from these nations who maintain everlasting residency might purchase not more than 5 acres of land, and just for residential use.

Throughout debate, Senate Minority Chief Brad Hutto requested if somebody with a inexperienced card, for instance, might open a restaurant. Massey replied that such an individual might accomplish that however not personal the constructing the place it’s housed.

“Why is that?” Hutto requested. “I believed the American Dream was type of to personal your individual enterprise?”

“As soon as they turn into a citizen, they may do this,” Massey mentioned, including: “They’re nonetheless residents of overseas adversaries.”

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