South Carolina Senate passes bill to bar citizens and corporations of 'foreign adversaries' from purchasing property

 March 31, 2023

There has been growing concern across the nation about foreign governments and entities, particularly those that are adversarial or hostile toward the United States, purchasing land and real estate properties within the sovereign borders of the U.S., and some Republican-led states have begun to confront that issue.

One of those is South Carolina, where the state Senate just approved a bill that would largely prevent citizens and corporations of "foreign adversaries" from acquiring any new real estate property interests in the state, according to The Epoch Times.

The measure passed the Republican-controlled state Senate by a vote of 31-5 last week and now awaits consideration by the state House along with the signature of the South Carolina governor.

Prohibiting foreign adversaries from being landowners

The bill, known as S. 576, titled "Alien Ownership of Real Property," was introduced by South Carolina Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey (R) after he learned about an announced agreement for Chinese biomedical company AnPac to purchase 500 acres of land in McCormick County for $28 million.

Massey was particularly concerned about that land purchase due to the proximity of the 500 acres to the U.S. Army Cyber Command Headquarters based in the state, not to mention the Chinese spy balloon in February that traversed much of the continental U.S. before it was eventually shot down off the coast of his state.

The specific purpose is to prevent the future sale of any land or real property interests by citizens or corporations of "foreign adversaries," which are defined as "any foreign government or nongovernment person determined by the United States Secretary of Commerce to have engaged in a long-term pattern or serious instances of conduct significantly adverse to the national security of the United States or the security and safety of United States citizens."

In other words, nations that are generally hostile toward the U.S., such as China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Russia," according to a legislative update earlier this week from Sen. Massey.

Guarding against a "Trojan Horse"

The Epoch Times noted that Sen. Massey compared real property purchases in the state by foreign adversary nations and entities to the famous Trojan Horse of ancient Greek mythology -- a giant wooden horse ostensibly presented to a besieged city as a gift that secretly held soldiers inside who only emerged to wreak havoc once the horse had naively been brought inside the city's protective walls.

"We need to look inside that wooden horse before we let it in the gate," Massey said. "And there are some countries that have given us more of a reason to look inside the wooden horse before we let it in the gate."

In reference to the above-named hostile nations, the state senator added, "These five have specifically given us reason to have more scrutiny and to be a little bit more concerned."

Some exceptions to the broad prohibition

The Epoch Times noted that the bill would reduce the maximum amount of real property that can be owned by non-U.S. citizens and corporations from 500,000 acres to just 1,000 acres and particularly bars any corporations owned by foreign adversary governments from acquiring any property at all.

There are exceptions, however, such as an allowance for foreign-owned corporations already in the state to expand their holdings with special approval from the state government, nor would the bill require existing foreign landowners to divest from or sell off the property.

Another exception was granted for citizens of a foreign adversary to purchase up to five acres for residential use only if they are also U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.

Given the wide margin by which the bill passed the state Senate, it will presumably also clear the Republican-controlled state House in similar fashion, though it remains to be seen if South Carolina's Republican governor will actually sign the measure into law.

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