Did our sneaky, authoritarian trading partner show up near military base?

Did our sneaky, authoritarian trading partner show up near military base?

Did our sneaky, authoritarian trading partner show up near military base?

A shadowy corporation’s purchase of farmland that surrounds a U.S. air base in California has launched state and federal inquiries, which is the just the latest episode of China being accused of using foreign investments to mask clandestine activities.

It is no secret China is buying up farmland across the county, an investment that totals about 383,900 acres according to an NPR story published just last month. That amount of acreage puts China at No. 11 among foreign investments, far behind Germany (2.3 million acres) and the United Kingdom (2.5 million acres), the story points out, but the U.S. is not wargaming a war in the Taiwan Strait with Germany or the UK.

After the U.S. Air Force learned Flannery Associates, LLC had purchased $800 million of land around Travis, the Pentagon wisely began digging into the company and its interests.

After eight months of investigating, the investors behind Flannery could not be determined, reported Eyewitness News 7, an ABC News affiliate. An attorney for the corporation said most of the investors are Americans but officials said the changing stories and lack of transparency only raise more questions. 

U.S. Rep. John Garamendi, a Democrat who represents portions of the Bay Area, raised the issue to the Air Force.

"It's so extensive and so secret," he complained, "and it's impossible to get any information about what's happening here."

China’s interest in U.S. farmland, and the U.S. response to the issue, is further complicated by the fact China is our country’s largest trading partner with billions of U.S. dollars and Chinese yuan passing back and forth daily. That business partnership also happens because U.S. corporations ignore China's abuse of its own people, including political prisoners who are used to make cheap products that are shipped to the U.S.

Here on U.S. soil, China is also kidnapping its citizens at illegal police stations; stealing trade secrets from corporations and universities; sending spy balloons across the continent; and sneaking trained operatives across the U.S. southern border.

Derek Jones, a retired Air Force fighter pilot, tells AFN the purchase of land around Travis Air Force Base is immediately suspicious because some of that property is unusable marshy land, when an attorney for the corporation insisted his client is interested in agriculture. 

“I've got an 80-acre farm myself in Alabama,” Jones says. “You don't pay top dollar and five, six times the amount of value of land to go into a losing proposition of agriculture.”

Therefore, he calls the land purchase more than suspicious. “There's no question in my mind,” he concludes, “that's a ruse."

In 2022, a Chinese company’s purchase of 300 acres in South Dakota for a future corn mill caused concern locally, on Capitol Hill, and at the Pentagon. The mill was planned for construction 12 miles from the military base, Grand Forks, which houses top-secret drone technology used for surveillance.

With backing from the U.S. Air Force, the City of Grand Forks rejected permits for construction in a 5-0 city council vote earlier this year. That decision chose national security concerns over a promise of 200 jobs and new tax revenue.