Chinese Investment Near Texas Military Base Draws Scrutiny


WASHINGTON—A wind farm in Texas near the Air Force’s largest pilot training base came under the spotlight in recent weeks because the owner is a Chinese businessman described as a “carpetbagger” with strong ties to the communist regime in China.

Over 130,000 acres of Texas ranch land—an area the size of Tulsa, Oklahoma—was sold in 2018 to China-based Guanghui Energy Co.

Sun Guangxin, the founder of Guanghui, is a former Chinese military officer and the richest person in the western Xinjiang region, with a $1.9 billion net worth, according to Forbes. A South China Morning Post article in 2004 described Sun as a “controversial figure” and a “carpetbagger.”

In 1989, when Sun left the army, “he had no money but was bursting with ambition,” the article said, likening him to Russian oligarchs.

He generated a vast fortune by acquiring state assets at bargain prices. He took over more than half the property market in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, according to the article.

Xinjiang is home to internment camps where the U. S. State Department says more than a million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities are held without charge.

Guanghui acquired the land in Val Verde County, Texas, with a proposal to build 50 to 130 wind turbines. The land is near Laughlin Air Force Base, the Air Force’s largest pilot training facility, and a few dozen miles away from the U. S.–Mexico border.

About 95 percent of land in Texas is privately owned. Private ownership combined with loose regulations in Texas makes property purchases easier for foreign buyers.

In Texas, there’s also “a high bar for authorities to step in and stop development on wind farms,” according to an article by Foreign Policy.

“Ever since the Texas legislature put in place a 1999 mandate calling on the state’s utilities to get more power from renewable sources, it’s been hard to stop these ventures from going forward,” it states.

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The federal government, however, has the power to block such investments for national security reasons through the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which monitors foreign investments. A 2018 law granted more power to the CFIUS in scrutinizing Chinese investments.

A CFIUS panel chaired by the Treasury Departme… (Read more)

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