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The people of North Dakota saw the Chinese plan for opening a corn mill near a sensitive military base and took matters into their own hands, blocking the project.
In the wake of what was reputedly a Chinese spy balloon being shot down after it floated over sensitive U.S. military installations, the Grand Forks City Council, aware that the U.S. military did not have jurisdiction to kill the project, voted unanimously on Monday to block Chinese food producer Fufeng Group from building the mill only 12 miles from the Grand Forks Air Force Base. Last spring three North Dakotans sold the land for millions of dollars; the town’s mayor, Brandon Bochenski, pointed out that the proposed $700 million plant would create more than 200 jobs but also admitted there were national security concerns.
“The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) considered an October 2022 filing by the Fufeng Group to acquire certain assets in the vicinity of Grand Forks, North Dakota. Grand Forks Air Force Base is the center of military activities related to both air and space operations,” U.S. Air Force Assistant Secretary Andrew P. Hunter warned North Dakota senators John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer in January.
“While CFIUS concluded that it did not have jurisdiction, the Department’s view is unambiguous: the proposed project represents a significant threat to national security with both near and long-term risks of significant impacts to our operations in the area,” he added.
“With regard to Fufeng, if you’re going to strategically decouple, that means we don’t want their investment,” Cramer said last June.
Prior to that, last April Air Force Major Jeremy Fox wrote a memo stating, “some of the most sensitive elements of Grand Forks exist with the digital uplinks and downlinks inherent with unmanned air systems and their interaction with space based assets,” adding, “if proximal access were given to our adversaries, and their collections were directed at us, it would present a costly national security risk causing grave damage to (the) United States’ strategic advantages.”
“Passive collection of those signals would be undetectable, as the requirements to do so would merely require ordinary antennas tuned to the right collecting frequencies. This introduces a grave vulnerability to our Department of Defense installations and is incredibly compromising to US National Security,” he continued.
The Monday meeting featured comments from members of the public before the vote. One citizen snapped, “Why would an individual, or individuals, or a company be involved with somebody that is aggressive to the United States, especially if they’re an adversary against us? The only conclusion I come is up with is money, black mail prestige, power, sedition, treason. I’m not understanding, why would you advocate for it? How can you defend yourself against a foreign enemy against the United States? Those are questions that need to be asked.”