Florida Governor Ron DeSantis took his war against the Chinese Communist Party to a new level this week when he signed three bills into law that severely restrict the CCP’s ability to acquire land in the state of Florida, crack down on the CCP’s data collection of U.S. citizens, and ban CCP influence from the education system.
DeSantis signed three new bills into law on Monday — SB 264, SB 846, and SB 258 — a package the governor’s office called “the strongest legislation in the nation to date to counteract the influence of the United States’ greatest economic, strategic, and security threat — the Chinese Communist Party.”
A Chinese think tank designated DeSantis among the five most aggressive governors in the U.S. against the communist nation back in 2019, several months before the coronavirus pandemic erupted. Since then, DeSantis has continued to take an aggressive approach towards China.
The trio of new laws:
- Prevents Chinese entities or affiliates from buying farmland in Florida or land near our military bases and critical infrastructure.
- Stops sensitive data from being stored on servers that might be owned by entities affiliated with the CCP.
- Prohibits the Chinese influence that we rooted out of higher education from working its way into [Florida’s] primary and secondary education institutions.
- Blocks access to dangerous applications, such as TikTok, on government and educational institution servers and devices.
“Florida is taking action to stand against the United States’ greatest geopolitical threat — the Chinese Communist Party,” the 44-year-old governor said in a statement. “I’m proud to sign this legislation to stop the purchase of our farmland and land near our military bases and critical infrastructure by Chinese agents, to stop sensitive digital data from being stored in China, and to stop CCP influence in our education system from grade school to grad school. We are following through on our commitment to crack down on Communist China.”
At a press conference where he signed the bills, DeSantis noted the numerous advantages that China has over the U.S., including how they use their government to create an unfair trading relationship with the U.S.
“Part of the reason we’re in this predicament is because elites in our own country, for a generation, have sought short term profits over long term U.S. interests,” DeSantis said. “They thought people were making money, that was good for some, and they didn’t have a long view of how that would work in terms of America’s industrial base here at home, or America’s security abroad.”
The governor’s latest actions against China builds off legislation that DeSantis signed into law back in 2021. According to the governor’s office, those laws:
- Strengthens foreign financial connection vetting and disclosure requirements for entities seeking tax-payer funded grants or contracts from state agencies or political subdivisions.
- Creates heightened scrutiny of research grant applicants, foreign applicants for research positions, and foreign travel or activities of employees of major research institutions.
- Requires universities and colleges to disclose foreign donations and grants of $50,000 or more to the State University System Board of Governors or Department of Education. State agencies and political subdivisions are required to report foreign donations and grants of $50,000 or more to the Department of Financial Services.
- Prohibits specific agreements between state/public entities and the seven countries of concern (Russia, PRC, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Venezuela).
- Creates new criminal offenses in Florida for the theft and trafficking of trade secrets.
- Anyone who willfully and without authorization steals or attempts to steal a trade secret and use it for their own benefit will now face a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison. Individuals attempting to sell stolen trade secrets will face a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison
- If an individual or entity violates this law on behalf of a foreign government, the penalties are severely enhanced — reclassifying the felony one degree higher and increasing the offense severity ranking.