Billions of dollars of Chinese money in American real estate. Over a third of a million Chinese students in American universities. Educational institutes to promote Chinese cultures and values. An inevitable result of globalisation and an opportunity for reciprocation, or a warning toll for Americans and the world?
Florida governor Ron DeSantis wants to completely ban Chinese real estate purchases in Florida. Speaking on Fox News, DeSantis argued that the US should not be “funding their #1 adversary”.
Last year, China were the top foreign buyer of residential and farmland real estate in the US, bringing in $6.1 billion. This has been seen as both a national security issue and a problem for US homebuyers. There is growing suspicion about Chinese purchases of land in close proximity to government and military bases in the US. For example, earlier this month, US senators wrote a letter to the Biden administration to flag a Chinese company’s purchase of farmland close to a US Air Force base in North Dakota.
On another note, the more real estate bought by the Chinese, the more unaffordable land and housing in the Sunshine State becomes to US citizens. DeSantis did not hone in on these local concerns with Laura Ingraham, but instead linked it to a wider concern with growing Chinese power. DeSantis’ grander sweeping statements on Fox News bring into question whether he is ostracizing the Chinese for political theatre. For DeSantis, real estate purchases are a segment of China’s political game. He goes as far as to raise concern about espionage and ideology by asking what the Chinese could be “bringing to the US and taking back to China”.
When questioned by Ingraham on the “gobbling up” of US land by China, DeSantis launched into his wider concerns with Confucius Institutes. These educational programs claim to promote Chinese culture and language, but there is growing suspicion that they curb freedom and push Communist propaganda. DeSantis’ concerns over Chinese buyers in Florida seem to be linked to national security and his own political agenda rather than concern over prices for US residents.
At the same time, UK’s Rishi Sunak has pledged to ban Confucius Institutes if he becomes Prime Minister. DeSantis claimed in the Fox interview that he has already signed legislation to ‘crack down on rogue influence’ from those such as the Chinese Communist Party. With the potential for DeSantis to announce a 2024 Presidential bid, it represents a tougher global stance and suspicion towards CCP influence. This has perhaps been conflated politically with the real estate issue, with DeSantis using the Fox interview as a platform to air his concerns over the 330,000 Chinese students in American universities.
Are the billions going into American real estate a communist ploy for expansion, or are they an opportunity for America to forge relationships and benefit from Chinese investments? Should America focus on reciprocation or compromise with China or put their foot down harder?
Tampa is one of the fastest growing cities in the US, while China owns and controls much of US domestic food supply. What happens if the Chinese are banned from real estate purchases? DeSantis argues the Chinese are “flexing their muscles more than ever” but is it the right decision to flex them back just as hard?