(USNewsMag.com) – The city council of Grand Forks, North Dakota unanimously voted to stop a proposed Chinese-owned corn mill from being built, resulting in cheers from the residents who had filled the seats of the council meeting.
The proposed mill would have been built on a 300-acre parcel of land that was purchased by Fufeng Group in 2022. Fufeng Group is a Chinese-owned company that claims to be an international manufacturer of bio-fermentation products. The land was purchased for $2.3 million while the proposed mill would have cost $700 million. Despite the promise of 200 jobs for that local community and initial support from Mayor Brandon Bochenski, many people voiced concerns about the proximity to a U.S. Air Force Base.
Both Senators from North Dakota previously encouraged the city to prohibit the Fufeng project and find a U.S.-based company instead.
Residents criticized the City Council, saying that initially, Councilmembers offered confident reassurances about the plan, only to turn around later and claim ignorance about the potential national security threats the plant could pose.
The land is located only 12 miles from Grand Forks AFB. According to a memo that was circulated in April, U.S. Air Force Major Jeremy Fox expressed concerns that the project fit a Chinese pattern of “subnational espionage campaigns.” It is believed that China has invested in enterprises through the U.S. and uses the companies as fronts to have operations close to important Department of Defense sites.
Before the unanimous vote, the Mayor had told Fox News that the city had other options if the council allowed the project to continue including denying permits for building and infrastructure.
Upon the rejection of the Fufeng corn mill proposal, residents in attendance began chanting “USA.” The issue had caused tension between city politicians and their citizens leading to calls for some members to resign. Dexter Perkins accused the council of supporting the project before proposing it to the people, condemning them for not asking those they serve before deciding what they wanted to do.
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