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More lawmakers enact bans on Chinese land ownership

South Carolina joins the ongoing stream of lawmakers across the country pushing to bar Chinese citizens and businesses from owning property, according to WLTX.

The state is one of 11 considering similar legislation sparking fears from Asian Americans of increased discrimination and anti-Asian violence.

Last week, the South Carolina state senate passed the “foreign adversary” bill or S.576 31-5.

Bill SB 576 was introduced for the first time in late February by Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey who said he felt compelled to act when a Chinese biomedical company planned to spend $28 million dollars for 500 acres near a military base in McCormick County, reports WLTX 19

Similar proposals increased after the U.S. shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the South Carolina coast. The urgency to advance these anti-surveillance measures increased over fears that land ownership by countries like China and Russia are part of suspected plots to harm U.S. national security.

“We’re only talking about five countries,” said Massey. “These countries have earned additional scrutiny.” 

These measures would affect citizens of presumed “adversarial countries” including China, Russia, Iran, Cuba, and North Korea. However, China appears to be the primary focus of these proposals.

“It’s definitely sort of reinvocation of kind of what people in Asian American studies would refer to as ‘Yellow Peril’ fearmongering,” said University of Texas, Austin and Asian American Studies professor Madeline Hsu said to CNN .

“There are ways in which it resonates with what happened to Japanese Americans during World War II, where regardless of citizenship, regardless of nativity, theywere racially categorized as enemy aliens.”

The “Foreign Adversary” bill notes that immigrants of these countries living in South Carolina must hold permanent residency in the U.S. to own no more than 5 acres of land and even then—only for residential use. For business owners looking to make future acquisitions, Massey said they could open one if they are a green-card user but not own the building where it’s housed unless they become a U.S. citizen.

The criteria in many of these bills vary from what type of land to what rights foreign landowners have.

In Virginia, Gov. Glenn Youngkin is expected to sign SB 1438 which was amended and reenacted to ban “foreign adversaries” from owning agricultural land. Once in effect, the bill will observe the Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act (AFIDA), a nationwide system that collects information annually relating to foreign land owners. Supporters of the bill seek to use this system to stop Chinese investments from growing, however, China accounted for just one percent of US farmland—or 383,935 acres—in 2021, according to the Congressional Research Service. Russia and Iran own even less land with less than 6,000 acres combined.

Texas, like South Carolina, has tighter restrictions. The state seeks to set motions that will exclude those named countries and citizens from buying any type of land—including homes. Texan legislators fast-tracking SB 147 and SB 552 urge the necessity to protect U.S. military bases and infrastructures from national security risks. Yet, both documents do not cite this.

“The bill doesn’t say, ‘military bases,’” said state Rep. Gene Wu during the debate. “There is no discernment about what type of land is being purchased or who is doing the purchasing. … It targets individuals indiscriminately.”

Activists opposing these laws believe that the national security argument is a guise for how it will racially target and scapegoat immigrant communities. They fear those immigrants with businesses in places like South Carolina and Texas could become targets.

Ling Luo, founder of the Asian American Leadership Council (AALC), testified at the Texas Senate SB 147 hearing earlier this month. Luo lists the numerous laws that have threatened to displace AAPI communities from the 1880s to the 1940s and how difficult the process is to obtain a green card, let alone citizenship.

Opponents state that it will do little to nothing for national security except harm the communities involved. Nonprofit organizations like the Union of Concerned Scientists report that the push to ban foreign land ownership could amplify farmland consolidation, which they say allows corporations to have power over food security.

Many policymakers claim that passing these laws will not target individuals, only the countries and government entities on the list. Although, the court decisions made in the Terrace v. Thompson case allow “each state, in the absence of any treaty provision to the contrary, may deny to aliens the right to own land within its border,” according to the Tallahassee Reports.

Ultimately, it’s up to the federal courts to decide whether these proposed legislations are constitutional or not.

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.


  1. During WW2, Germany and Italy were our enemies; America was in a total war against these dictatorial powers. Yet, no legislation was ever enacted or considered to ban any Germans or Italians from owning any properties in rhe USA. No Germans or Italians were ever put in concentration camps as Japanese Americans were. Since 1882, America has shown itself to hate East Asians, enacting legislation to curb, ban, and humiliate one group of people: Chinese. Today, this vicious, cruel, and mean hatred and racist attitude against the Chinese is rearing its ugly head again. This outright racism and bigotry against China is despicable. Can America show ourselves to be even more unjust, unkind, or unrighteous?

  2. Racism and discrimination is unacceptable, has no place in the United States and must be called out whenever surfaced. We must also never forget our history, and the hateful and discriminatory actions that led to the internment of Japanese-American families during World War II.
    However we must also question whether pieces such as this serve as propaganda under the influence activities of the Community Party’s United Front Work Department, such as the now-shuttered “Confucius Institutes”. Conflating “PRC activities” with “ethnicity of Asian heritage” only obfuscates the malicious activities such as the large-scale theft of American intellectual property (including agricultural innovations in crop yields) and espionage, such as the recent PRC military high altitude balloon that surveilled U.S. military sites.
    We should not turn a blind eye to the Communist Party’s attempts to exploit our own tolerance and inclusion for their nefarious purposes. We must remember, especially now as the holy month of Ramadan begins, that millions of Muslims (including ethnically-Chinese Hui and ethnically-Turkic Uyghur) across the PRC are being prevented from observing their faiths by the Communist Party. This is a regime now attempting to export its hateful and repressive ideology we cannot permit to gain footholds in our society.


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