This week’s revelation that a Chinese billionaire and member of its Communist Party is the second-largest foreign owner of farmland in the US sparked outrage among politicians, who want to know why Chen Tianqiao’s $85 million purchase was a secret for nearly a decade.
Chen, a co-founder of Shanda Interactive Entertainment, bought nearly 200,000 acres of farmland in Oregon in 2015 at about $430 an acre, according to the Land Report, a magazine that focuses on private land ownership in the US.
However, his purchase of the acreage does not appear in government records of land ownership by foreign investors, the Daily Mail reported Saturday.
Chen’s land ownership only came to light this week after the state publicly named one of his companies as the beneficial owner of the property, the Daily Caller first reported.
Chen, 50, also owns a $39 million Manhattan townhouse and a $26 million estate in Los Angeles, where he is based. He joined the CCP when he was 18, and has risen through the executive ranks of the party, according to reports.
New York Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik told The Post Saturday that the Biden administration had “dropped the ball” on protecting US agricultural land from being snapped up by “foreign adversaries.”
“Communist China is purchasing US agricultural land to subvert our sovereignty, undermine our agriculture industry, encroach on our military installations, and upend America’s rural communities,” Stefanik said.
Last year, Stefanik and other members of Congress fired off a letter to the US Department of Agriculture, urging the agency to increase its vigilance over foreign ownership of farmland.
“Food security is national security,” she wrote.
Montana farmer and Sen. Jon Tester renewed demands Friday for Congress to protect US land security.
“While we learn more about the specifics around this unfolding situation, it highlights the need for Congress to do more to protect American agricultural security,” the Democrat said in a statement this week.
Stefanik was among a group of bipartisan legislators who wrote to Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack to protest what they say is the federal government’s lax oversight of foreign land purchases.
It’s not clear why Chen’s purchase does not appear in government records. The Agricultural Foreign Investment Disclosure Act requires foreign investors to report any new interest in American agricultural land to the Department of Agriculture within 90 days of the transaction.
Canada’s Irving family is the biggest foreign landowner in the country, owning more than 1.2 million acres in Maine.