US Military Report Uncovers Beijing’s Efforts to Undermine Texas Land Sale Bill

Darlene McCormick Sanchez
By Darlene McCormick Sanchez
August 30, 2023USshare

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) conducted “information warfare” against a Texas bill banning the sale of land to China and other adversaries, while condoning “sabotage” and even “assault” against the bill’s supporters, according to a military document.

An unclassified Tenth Air Force slide, “The China Threat” obtained by The Epoch Times, said the CCP launched a “misinformation” campaign to kill Senate Bill 147. The measure was sponsored by Republican state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst after the legislature convened on Jan. 10.

Initially, the bill was to ban governments, corporations, and foreign nationals of China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea—those listed on the National Threat Assessment—from purchasing land in Texas when introduced during the 2023 Legislative session.

This legislation was triggered by a former Chinese military officer’s 2021 purchase of 140,000 acres of land close to Laughlin Air Force Base near Del Rio, Texas.

The CCP-controlled media platform WeChat was flooded with false information immediately after the session began, the document stated.  WeChat, owned by Tencent, was developed by the Chinese as a social media, messaging, and mobile payment app with more than 1 billion users.

When the first hearing on the bill was held in Austin on March 2, two pro-bill witnesses required a police escort to the hearing due to threats of violence from WeChat accounts, the documents said.

The document included photos of some WeChat accounts written in Chinese.

One WeChat user on X, formerly known as Twitter, posted alleged threats made against him for supporting the bill. The WeChat post suggested using a baseball bat with nails driven through it to attack proponents of the legislation.

“Simultaneously, the very same WeChat groups that are constantly flooded with pro-CCP and anti-democracy propaganda successfully mobilized over 100 opponents of the bill to attend the hearing as witnesses,” the document said.

The Air Force document stated WeChat’s efforts to scuttle the bill rallied Democrats and other “groups to devote publicity, organization and advocacy efforts to oppose the bill.”

“The anti-SB147 effort has found supporters among Democratic Party politicians such as State Representative Gene Wu and U.S. Congresswoman Judy Chu, advocacy groups such as the ACLU, and the liberal media, all of which are unlikely aware that they are aligned with the CCP on this issue,” according to the document.

The Epoch Times contacted Mr. Wu, Ms. Chu, and the ACLU Texas for comment.

‘Not Surprised’

Mrs. Kolkhorst told The Epoch Times via email she was not surprised there was a concerted effort to defeat the bill that concerned national security.

“If the CCP does not like it, then it must be a good idea,” she said.

Opposition to the bill throughout the legislative session was “scripted and organized from a central point,” she noted.

“Our office was made aware of threats and intimidation of witnesses” who came to speak on the bill, she said.

Mrs. Kolkhorst called protecting land, timber, agriculture, and natural resources from “foreign regimes determined to destroy our nation” a bipartisan issue.

A similar bill restricting land ownership for some Chinese and those from other countries was signed into law this year by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, also a Republican presidential candidate.

A federal judge last week rejected attempts to block the Florida law.

U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor denied a request from Chinese immigrants and a real-estate firm to place a preliminary injunction on the law while the case moved through the court. Former President Donald Trump appointed Judge Winsor.

With more states passing bills to curtail land ownership for those connected to China and other adversarial countries, Ms. Chu (D-Calif.), a Chinese American, introduced federal legislation in Congress to preempt “discriminatory” land ownership laws in states.

The legislation would protect individuals from “undue suspicion and potential racial profiling,” according to a May news release from Ms. Chu.

Groups on WeChat called SB 147 the “Chinese Exclusion Act” and those who supported it “Chinese traitors,” the Air Force document stated.

Photos of activists rallying against the bill in Houston, a Democratic stronghold, mirrored CCP-sponsored platform language on signs: “Say no to the Exclusion Bill.”

Mr. Wu, a state representative from Houston who immigrated from China as a child, told local media he wasn’t against defending national security. He opposed the bill over fears it would prevent home ownership for some, such as those going through the naturalization process.

An amendment was added to the Texas bill allowing individuals who are U.S. citizens and green card holders to purchase homes in Texas. However, Mr. Wu still called the bill discriminatory because it appeared to target specific populations.

The Air Force document said the push against the bill had signature characteristics of other CCP-sanctioned campaigns on the platform. The WeChat groups had a “singular narrative slant,” the document stated.

Tactics on WeChat included forbidding balanced discussions, kicking out anyone who disagreed, and promoting the “most radical (and in this case anti-American) voices,” according to the document.

Some posts encouraged users to “sabotage pro-SB147 accounts by labeling them as spam, reporting them to the FBI as spies, or even assaulting the users,” the document stated.

SB 147, which Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said on social media he supported, passed the Senate but never made it out of a Republican-controlled House amid protests led by Texas Democrats and activists.

The Harris County Democratic Party in Houston, for example, called the bill “racist and xenophobic” in a statement.

A watered-down version of the bill restricted purchases of agricultural land, timberland, and oil and gas rights by entities associated with any country that “poses a risk to the national security of the United States” was delivered to the House State Affairs Committee in April.

The State Affairs Committee, headed by Republican Todd Hunter, failed to advance the bill by the time the clock ran out for the legislative session in May. The Epoch Times has contacted Mr. Hunter for comment.

Mrs. Kolkhorst said the named countries targeted by her bill are the same as those listed on the Annual Threat Assessment by the U.S. Director of National Intelligence since 2018 under both the Trump and the Biden administrations.

Mrs. Kolkhorst hopes the governor will add this issue at the next special session.

“We cannot allow the CCP to control or influence the Texas Legislature or the people of Texas. We will not stand for this,” she said.

The Texas governor’s office did not respond to an Epoch Times request for comment.

Jonathan Hullihan was an attorney in the U.S. Navy and has a background in national security law. He currently serves as a lawyer representing Citizens Defending Freedom in Texas.

Mr. Hullihan said Texans need to wake up to the reality that foreign governments want to shape public policy on the state level just as much as they do on the national level.

“Based on my experience as a Navy JAG and national security, I now see these foreign influence operations happening in my own backyard, in my county, and in my state,” he said.

“It’s really detrimental to the people of Texas that these foreign powers are getting what they want by manipulating the legislative process,” he said.

From The Epoch Times

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