Gov. DeSantis warns China could build Florida ‘resort,’ buy subdivisions
Image via AP.

desantis_villages
'Would you want that to be happening? Of course not.'

Florida’s Governor continues to lean in against the Communist Chinese government, promising a tough ban against land purchases and offering new scenarios illustrating the danger.

On Thursday in The Villages, Gov. Ron DeSantis raised the specter of China making aggressive buys of land in Florida, suggesting that unless restrictions are imposed, “hostile” Beijing could make concerning inroads in buying Florida properties.

“Just imagine, not that they would sell it here in The Villages, but just imagine that the (Chinese Communist Party) had a company buying subdivisions in the Villages. Would you want that to be happening? Of course not.”

DeSantis also raised the prospect of Chinese interests buying other properties in Florida, as he has before, but he added a new potential wrinkle for consideration.

“You don’t want them buying farmland, controlling our food supply. You don’t want them near military bases. But do you want them building a resort in Florida either? I don’t.”

While the prospects of Chinese acquisition of senior-living subdivisions or vacation resorts may seem remote, evidence exists that the Asian power has invested heavily in Florida farmland. The U.S. Department of Agriculture notes that as of 2020, “reported foreign-held agricultural land” constitutes 5.8% of Florida’s total. That’s among the highest proportions in the country.

DeSantis raised similar concerns about Chinese acquisitions at a press conference earlier this week.

“If you look at the Chinese Communist Party, they’ve been very active throughout the Western Hemisphere in gobbling up land and investing in different things. And, you know, when they have interests that are opposed to ours, and you’ve seen how they’ve wielded their authority — especially with President Xi (Jinping), who’s taken a much more Marxist-Leninist turn since he’s been ruling China — that is not in the best interests of Florida to have the Chinese Communist Party owning farmland, owning land close to military bases,” DeSantis said.

The Governor said he wants to make a ban “as broad as possible,” including farmland and ports, and clearly extending beyond that. Expect the 2023 Legislative Session to have bills to match his desire to constrain Chinese land grabs in the Sunshine State.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


4 comments

  • Vince Edwards

    January 12, 2023 at 11:56 am

    Foreign ownership of farmland is a major source of investment in the United States. Canadian investors own the largest share of foreign-held land in the U.S., 12.4 million acres, making up 32% of all foreign investments, followed by the Netherlands with 13%, Italy with 7% and the U.K with 6%.

    Chinese investors held 352,140 acres of American land in 2020, representing slightly less than 1% of total foreign ownership.

    Source: Texas Farm Bureau

  • tom palmer

    January 13, 2023 at 11:10 am

    I can imagine the lawsuits that will emerge when DeSantis and company try to tell private property owners to whom they can sell their land.

  • Mike Coleman

    January 13, 2023 at 2:26 pm

    Real estate can’t be exported.
    Lots more important things to worry about than foreign investment in real estate.

  • It's Complicated

    January 13, 2023 at 3:17 pm

    In the late ’80s/early ’90s, a Japanese company foreclosed upon a Florida pari-mutual horse-racing track, and when the new owners refused to cooperate with state officials on the required permit transfer investigation (including fingerprinting), South Florida legislators (Democrats) filed legislation to ban foreign ownership of pari-mutuel facilities. The legislation motivated the Japanese owners to cooperate, the permit was transferred, and the bills were never heard. All that to say, threatening to ban foreign ownership of real estate (or a regulated industry) in Florida is not a new idea.

Comments are closed.


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