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Sunday, July 14th, 2024

Florida bans Chinese citizens from buying property without US green cards

Florida has signed a law banning Chinese citizens without US green cards from buying property in the state, sparking anger among Chinese citizens, CNN reports.

The law underscores growing tensions between the world’s two largest economies in a U.S. presidential election year, and the rules have fueled uneasiness and confusion among ethnic Chinese living in the state. Some say the law has hurt their businesses, while others say they are considering leaving Florida altogether.

Bian, a 31-year-old software engineer who has lived in the US for 12 years and is a recipient of an H-1B visa, which allows companies to employ foreign workers, was told the decision could land him/her in jail.

“It was really shocking to me. It’s just buying property,” said Bian, who is originally from Nanjing, China. “Once I found that out, I didn’t even bother looking any further.”

After Florida Senate Bill 264 takes effect on July 1, 2023, Chinese citizens without a green card could face a felony charge and jail time if they buy property in the state. Sellers and real estate agents could also be liable under the law, CNN reports.

Bian said he/she recently began rethinking his/her life in Florida, and he/she’s not alone. The law specifically prohibits the “purchase or acquisition of real estate by any person who resides in the People’s Republic of China and who is not a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States.” But the term “resident” is not fully defined in the language of the law.

“We feel like we’re different from everybody else because of laws like this,” said Echo King, who was born in China and is president of the Florida Asian American Justice Alliance. “We feel like we’re not welcome.”

Susan Lee, a 47-year-old small business owner in Orlando, Florida, who has a green card, said she “really felt discriminated against” when she learned about the bill.

Like Bian, Lee was also looking for a new home when the law was passed. Despite the fact that she is a legal resident of the US, her family decided to stop their home search for fear of potential legal complications.

Under SB 264, citizens of Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, and Syria are prohibited from purchasing property within 10 miles of any “military installation or critical infrastructure facility” in Florida.

Specifically for Chinese citizens without permanent residence rights in the US, the law goes a step further, and bars the group from purchasing any property in the state, according to CNN.

“Florida is taking action against the greatest geopolitical threat to the United States — the Chinese Communist Party (CCP),” DeSantis said in a statement last year.

This law is currently being challenged in court, but several other states are considering similar legislation.

This controversial law comes at a time when relations between the US and China have become increasingly tense.

Last year, fears of Chinese government spying in the United States reached a boiling point when a Chinese surveillance balloon was spotted over Montana and eventually shot down by the United States.

Beyond allegations that Chinese-owned apps like TikTok are used for spying (which TikTok denies), US lawmakers have repeatedly warned that Chinese purchases of agricultural land pose a national security threat.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, China owns 349,442 acres of agricultural and non-agricultural land in the US, accounting for about 1 percent of total foreign-owned land in the US.

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