Plans for a Chinese-Owned Corn Mill in North Dakota Now Halted

Plans for a Chinese-Owned Corn Mill in North Dakota Now Halted

( – A city council in North Dakota has vetoed a Chinese company’s plan to build a corn mill that could have boosted the local economy. While the jobs would have been welcome, local opinion has turned against the project after the US Air Force (USAF) warned it was a threat to national security — because, by an amazing coincidence, the Chinese wanted to build their mill just a few miles from a vital USAF base.

Last year, Fufeng USA, the US subsidiary of Chinese food manufacturer Fufeng Group, announced it wanted to build a corn mill on a vacant plot just north of Grand Forks, North Dakota. Town officials were enthusiastic about the plan, with Governor Doug Burgum (R) calling it a “huge opportunity” and the council welcoming the 1,000 construction jobs it would bring on top of a permanent workforce of around 200.

However, not all the city’s residents were happy with the idea. The fact the company was Chinese raised fears of spying and communist influence, as well as concerns about globalization. Some locals put up anti-Chinese signs in protest at the project, while Mayor Brandon Bochenski (R) tried to persuade them of the mill’s value.

However, on January 27, the USAF intervened. Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Andrew Hunter wrote to North Dakota’s senator, who released the letter on January 31, warning the mill would be “a significant threat to national security.” Hunter pointed out the proposed site is just 12 miles from Grand Forks Air Force Base, the home of the USAF’s RQ-4 Global Hawk strategic surveillance drones and a vital communications hub.

With tensions still high after a Chinese spy balloon crossed the US last week, Hunter’s letter was enough to tip the balance; on February 6, the Grand Forks City Council voted 5-0 to block the mill. Mayor Bochenski, who has changed his mind about the project, has also vowed to deny permits and prevent the site from being connected to city infrastructure. China already owns far too much American farmland, but local governments seem to have finally woken up to the threat.

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