China-based Fufeng Group may be forced to abandon plans for a corn milling plant in North Dakota, with the Air Force declaring the project “a significant threat to national security.” The plant would be 12 miles from Grand Fork Air Force Base, a hub for air and space operations. Critics say the processing facility could be used to spy on Air Force activities.
North Dakota Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer said Grand Forks should cut ties with Fufeng and “we should work together to find an American company to develop the agriculture project.” Grand Forks Mayor Brandon Bochenski said in a statement, “The federal government has requested the city’s help in stopping the project as geo-political tensions have greatly increased since the initial announcement of the project.”
A food manufacturer, Fufeng announced in late 2021 that it planned to build a corn milling plant in Grand Forks and has purchased 370 acres for the site. Fufeng is not a state-owned enterprise. All the same, its project attracted suspicion as Sino-U.S. relations have soured.
In a letter, Air Force assistant secretary Andrew Hunter said the Air Force view “is unambiguous: The proposed project presents a significant threat to national security with both near- and long-term risk of significant impact to our operations in the area.” The Grant Forks base “is the center of military activities related to both air and space operations,” he said.
In late December, the interagency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States said it would not block the project. The committee, led by the Treasury Department, decides whether projects pose a risk to national security.