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Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation Monday banning Chinese citizens from purchasing land in Florida unless they are also a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
“We don’t want the [Chinese Communist Party] in the Sunshine State,” DeSantis said at a press conference in Brooksville, Florida. “We want to maintain this as the free state of Florida.”
The Republican governor highlighted concerns about the CCP making a “concerted effort to acquire farmland throughout the United States,” including in Florida.
“Food security is also national security, and so we don’t want the CCP in charge of any food production,” DeSantis said.
China owned 352,140 acres of U.S. land in 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, about 1% of total foreign-held acres. Canadian investors owned 12.4 million acres the same year, the most of any foreign country.
Senate Bill 264 also bans citizens of Russia, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela — labeled “countries of concern” — from owning land within 10 miles of military bases and critical infrastructure like airports and power plants. But only residents of China would be banned from owning land anywhere in Florida.
Dozens of Chinese-Americans testified against the bill last month, fearing it could lead to discrimination. Others worried it would prevent them from buying homes if they haven’t yet become lawful permanent residents.
“Once they pass it, I won’t be able to buy a house here in Florida,” H-1B visa holder Zihua Hé said, the Tallahassee Democrat reported. “It’s a part of my American dream.”
Other states, such as Texas, are considering similar measures, and Sen. Tom Cotton has introduced national legislation calling for a full ban on those associated with China from buying real estate on American soil.
DeSantis signed two additional bills aimed at reducing China’s influence in Florida.
SB 258 blocks access to apps like TikTok on government-issued devices and networks. SB 846 prohibits Florida state universities and colleges from accepting grants from “foreign countries of concern” or participating in partnerships with universities based in such countries unless specific conditions are met.
The three bills passed both chambers of the Republican-controlled Florida legislature with bipartisan support.
DeSantis said he hopes all states follow Florida’s lead.
“We really need to have a unified effort in this country to deter the CCP’s ambitions and their influence,” he said. “Part of that is asserting our economic sovereignty.”
During Monday’s press conference, DeSantis praised passage of other laws this legislative session, including “kneecapping” ESG in Florida, permitting the death penalty for those convicted of sexually abusing children, cracking down on fentanyl dealers and more.