Arkansas Attorney General Orders Chinese-Owned Company to Sell Land Over National Security Concerns
Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin (R) has taken a significant step to safeguard the state’s interests by ordering a Chinese state-owned company to relinquish approximately 160 acres of land in Craighead County. This action comes after the Chinese-owned Northrup King Seed Co., a subsidiary of Syngenta Seeds, LLC, failed to report its foreign ownership within the time frame mandated by law.
The legal basis for Griffin’s move is Act 636 of 2023, which prohibits foreign entities considered enemies of the United States from owning agricultural land in Arkansas. Nine such entities, including ChemChina, were identified in the act. Notably, ChemChina is on the Department of Defense’s list of Chinese military companies that pose a clear threat to national security.
During a press conference, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) expressed her concerns about foreign ownership of American land, particularly when it poses a risk to national security. She underscored the importance of upholding the law, as Act 636 demonstrates the state’s unwavering commitment to safeguarding its interests.
As the first state to take such decisive action, Arkansas aims to protect its agricultural land from potential exploitation by foreign entities. Griffin emphasized that ChemChina has a two-year deadline to divest itself of the land, which has been predominantly used for seed research. Should they refuse to comply, the attorney general can initiate legal proceedings to enforce the divestment.
Furthermore, Griffin’s office imposed a civil penalty of $280,000, the maximum allowable under Act 1046 of 2021, for ChemChina’s failure to report foreign ownership in the time frame specified by the law. This fine represents 25% of the property’s reported fair market value, which is valued at over $1 million.
Griffin asserted the importance of recognizing the Chinese government’s long-standing interest in non-military assets, particularly in the United States. He referred to congressional hearings in the late 1990s that addressed China’s acquisition of dual-use technologies and civilian-related technologies obtained from the United States. According to Griffin, the Chinese government’s strategic objectives leave no asset off-limits, whether it pertains to engineering, food production, or other areas.
The attorney general expressed confidence in ChemChina’s willingness to adhere to the divestment order, and he affirmed the need for states to be vigilant against potential threats. Given his extensive military background, Griffin stressed the consistent warnings about the Communist Chinese and their actions over the past decade.
Arkansas’s decisive action sends a strong message about protecting the state’s agricultural assets and U.S. national security interests from potential threats posed by hostile foreign entities. By enforcing these laws, the state is setting an example for others to follow.