Canada needs to keep track of land purchases here, researcher says
OTTAWA — The state of Florida plans to ban Chinese nationals from buying farmland and property in the sunshine state.
Florida’s Republican governor Ron DeSantis initially expressed worry about Chinese purchases of farmland because the land purchased has direct ties to the Chinese Communist Party.
Chinese buyers “pay a lot more than it’s worth and that is why people are (selling), but from a national security perspective, is that something that we wanna see?” DeSantis said in a press conference back on Sept. 22. “And a lot of times, there’ll be companies that will put themselves out as private, but if you peel back the onion a little bit, they’re basically controlled by the Chinese government. We think this is something that the U.S. as a whole needs to take much more seriously.”
Ontario does not have any restrictions on Chinese buying farmland or property in the province. Prince Edward Island has the strictest rules among provinces. You have to live on the island to buy farmland there. Foreigners face heavy restrictions on land purchases in China.
Anecdotally, rural Ontarians north of Toronto have expressed alarm over Chinese purchases of farmland there, says Charles Burton, Senior Fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute and a former counsellor at the Canadian Embassy in Beijing. However, there is no way to know the long term designs for the land, he said.
However, when you sell to a Chinese national you are dealing with the communist regime, making it a possible national security issue, he said, adding that there are rising hostilities between China and the west and the possibilities of espionage are increasing.
Land purchases are complicated because they can involve proxies and the connection with the Chinese government is often very unclear. However, when land is sold to a Chinese buyer, one should assume there is an association, even if only indirectly with the Chinese Communist Party, Burton said.
Canada will be watching the situation in Florida closely and should look into land acquisitions here to be sure they pose no threat to Canada and our economy, he said
There are other worries in Florida. “You also have the CCP buying land near our military installations,” Governor DeSantis told a press conference. “Why are they doing that? Of course, they want to get intelligence. They want to know what is going on here in the United States.”
On January 5, The Florida Voice reported that DeSantis is casting a wider net to ban Chinese purchases of any property in Florida.
The DeSantis Administration previously signed an executive order and proposed legislation in an effort to limit regimes like the Chinese Communist Party from obtaining Floridians’ private information and banned state government entities from procuring tech commodities and services from companies owned and controlled by China and other countries of concern. The other countries include Iran, Russia and Cuba.
“The last thing we want to see is the CCP getting their mitts onto people’s personal information,” DeSantis said. “This will prevent the exposure of Floridians’ personal information and technology systems in Florida to foreign entities and bad actors.”
The U.S. National Association of Realtors found that Chinese real estate investors spent $6.1 billion on American real estate over a 12-month period that ended in March — more than any other group of foreigners. Florida accounted for 24 % of all international real estate purchases in the US while California ranked second (11 %).