Texas Governor Greg Abbott has vowed to sign legislation that would ban entities from China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran from owning land in the state.
The bill, Senate Bill 147, was filed by Republican State Senator Lois Kolkhorst, and it aims to “prohibit any future purchase of or otherwise acquiring title to real property in the state of Texas by governments or entities affiliated with these countries or their citizens.”
Texas Republicans like Kolkhorst and Abbott have long warned of increased interest, and therefore threat, from foreign entities, particularly those connected to China and the Chinese Communist Party. In 2021, Abbott signed the “Lone Star Infrastructure Protection Act,” which bans all contracts or agreements with foreign-owned companies related to critical infrastructure in the state.
Notably, many of those who responded to Abbott’s declaration of support on Twitter asked why the ban doesn’t include Saudi Arabia, whose relationship with the US has recently been tense, following the OPEC+’s decision to cut oil production.
The Saudis took control of the Port Arthur refinery in Texas in 2017. It’s the largest oil refinery in the US.
Some public officials, meanwhile, have criticized the ban for being racist and xenophobic. Since former president Donald Trump’s rise to power in 2016, the anti-immigrant and anti-China rhetoric has become central to the GOP agenda, with leaders like Abbot comparing the migrant crisis to an invasion.
“This blatantly racist and xenophobic piece of legislation is exactly what we expect coming from what is anticipated to be the most conservative session we’ve seen in Texas,” said Harris County Democratic Party Chair Odus Evbagharu, according to a report by a local publication.
“The Senator claims she wants Texans to control Texas land, while being elected to serve some of the most diverse places in not only the state but the country. Bills like this only seek to further alienate groups of people and promote fear mongering.”
If passed, SB 147 would take effect beginning September 1, 2023.
In December, Governor Gregg Abbott joined the growing list of states that prohibited the use of TikTok on all state-issued devices. The video-sharing app is owned by China-based ByteDance Ltd, and this has sparked concerns over the possibility of the company sharing US user data with China’s authoritarian government.
Some US officials have also warned that the Chinese government could utilize the platform to push misinformation and pro-China narratives.
Information for this briefing was found via the New York Times, CNN, Click2Houston, and the companies and sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.