A Chinese real estate tycoon, a member of the Communist Party of China (CCP), set security alarms ringing in the United States after it became known that he acquired nearly 57,000 hectares of land in the state of Texas, on the border with Mexico, near Laughlin Air Force Base.
According to Breitbart, the billionaire industrialist from China’s Xinjiang province, Sun Guangxin, having purchased the land in the United States in 2015 through his company GH America Investments Group, plans to install a wind farm on the property.
The Chinese tycoon’s decision to invest in Texas brought serious concerns, due to Sun’s close connections to the CCP and the potential national security threat that GH America would pose to Texas and the United States, as the operation could encroach on control of the state’s power grid system.
Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz told Forbes in a statement, “These wind farms affect our training routes and pose a severe risk to our national security.”
And he warned that “The Chinese Communist Party has demonstrated time and again they’re willing to invest billions of dollars to expand their espionage capabilities and their global reach, including through land purchase schemes near military bases.”
On June 7, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the Lone Star Infrastructure Protection bill into law, which then on June 18 was enacted, to disallow corporate entities related to “hostile nations” from accessing the Texas power grid and other pieces of “critical infrastructure,” such as computer networks and waste treatment systems, Forbes wrote.
As early as April 20, 2021, Senator Cruz had introduced a “Protecting Military Installations and Ranges Act of 2021” bill, which would require CFIUS (Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S.) to revisit “any purchase or lease of real estate near a military installation or military airspace in the United States by a foreign person connected to or subsidized by” China, Russia, Iran, or North Korea.
Sun’s Texas operations could begin as soon as early 2023, Forbes reported.
Randy Nunns, a local landowner and former president of the Devils River Conservancy, an organization dedicated to protecting and conserving the Texas Devils River, expressed outrage that he did not understand how anyone from Texas could sell land to the Chinese.
According to the Forbes report, the intermediary in the purchase of the land was David Frankens, a businessman from the Texas town of Lufkin. According to the land deeds, Frankens bought properties from existing owners and then sold them to Sun’s subsidiary on the same day. The report also mentions that the unidentified person who sold the land to Frankens said he did not know he was selling the property to GH America.
Forbes estimates Sun’s net worth at $2.1 billion, and reviewed the obscure origins of the tycoon’s fortune.
Born the son of a farmer in 1962, just a few years before the start of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution. He served in the People’s Liberation Army as a teenager, rising to the rank of captain.
His shady path to becoming a billionaire begins in the late 1980s, after leaving the army. Sun opened the first fresh seafood restaurant in Ürümqi, capital of Xinjiang province, which allowed him to start networking with businessmen and party officials. In 1989, he acquired Xinjiang Guanghui Industry Investment Group (Guanghui), whose first business was importing oil drilling equipment from the disintegrated Soviet Union and selling it to Chinese state-owned companies.
Sun reportedly employed former army officers and regime officials to manage his businesses, and in the early 1990s opened a CCP branch within his company in exchange for juicy real estate deals, which involved acquiring bankrupt state-owned factories to tear down and replace them with apartment units and office towers, according to a 2002 Washington Post article.
Turning to the Xinjiang tycoon’s current ambitious project in the U.S., Forbes reported that the federal government has given regulatory approval for his wind farm and CFIUS also signed off on the project last December. Although he noted that CFIUS’s approval is conditional and could reverse its decision.