HomeAsian AmericansGeorgia bill passed to limit Chinese agents' land purchases

Georgia bill passed to limit Chinese agents’ land purchases

A Georgia bill that would limit Chinese “agents” from buying farmland or land near military installations passed the state House Thursday, despite Democratic opposition arguing it would increase discrimination against Asian Americans.

The Georgia House of Representatives voted 97 to 67 in favor of Senate Bill 420. The legislation parallels other measures passed in several Republican-leaning states including Florida, Alabama, Louisiana and Arkansas. 

Such laws garnered political support after authorities believed there was a Chinese spy balloon flying over the U.S. and “agents” associated with China purchased land near military bases in North Dakota and Texas, according to NBC News.

The bill applies to all “agents” of China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Russia, who do not have U.S. citizenship or are not legal residents, NBC News reported. 

Clayton News Daily reported the bill would not apply to residential property in addition to businesses leasing land for “agricultural research and development or experimental purposes.” 

Democratic State Representative Michelle Au, who is a Chinese American, described her concerns toward the bill. She noted she has been called an “agent of the Chinese Community Party, a spy, a plant, un-American and a foreign asset” during her time in the General Assembly. 

“This bill, whether explicitly or not, paints a picture that residents from certain parts of this world cannot be trusted,” said Au to NBC News. “They are essentially suspect and potentially traitorous simply by dint of their nationality.”

Democratic State Representative Sam Park, whose grandparents immigrated to the U.S. during the Korean War, said the bill mirrors past initiatives that unfairly targeted the Asian American community. 

“From the Chinese Exclusion Act that banned immigration from Asia and prevented all Americans of Asian descent from becoming citizens, to the forced relocation and internment of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans, to the rise in hate crimes and discrimination against Asian-Americans fueled by racist rhetoric and disinformation amidst the COVID -19 pandemic, it seems we have not come as far as we thought with respect to living up to our highest American principles and values of ensuring freedom, equality, and justice for all,” said Park to Clayton News Daily.

Park said he believes that real estate agents may be unable to distinguish a potential resident who is Chinese from an “agent” of China, NBC News reported. The bill, Park explained, could indirectly harm Asian immigrants interested in purchasing land. 

“Passage of this bill will cast a shadow of suspicion on any Asian or Hispanic-looking person who may want to purchase agricultural land or land near a military installation even if that person may be serving in our armed forces,” said Park to Clayton News Daily. “That is the bill y’all are trying to push through.”

Republican representatives said the bill would strengthen national security, arguing people affiliated with China who own farmland or land adjacent to military bases could pose a threat to national food security and could allow spies to send information back to Beijing, JURIST reported. 

“There are two things that are vital to every country’s national security: a water supply and a food supply,” said Buford Republican David Clark to Clayton News Daily. “This bill simply protects our valuable agricultural land that produces our food supply.”

Republican Representative James Burchett said to NBC News, “Just to say everything is racist, that is falling on deaf ears. I’m tired of it. I have been called that since I have been born, I feel like. And I am not that.”

The bill will now advance to a vote in the Georgia state Senate. If passed, all foreign agents would have to sell their property before July 2027. 

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