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Republicans give tentative approval to banning Chinese communists from owning land in Arizona

By: - February 17, 2022 10:06 am

Actors perform to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China on June 28, 2021, in Beijing, China. Photo by Lintao Zhang | Getty Images

A Republican bill passed in committee Wednesday would ban the Chinese Communist Party and “its members” from owning any real estate in Arizona. 

Flagstaff Republican Wendy Rogers wants to change Arizona law to declare that the CCP “may not own real property” in the state, and any deed the CCP currently has is deemed invalid. The same prohibition would apply to all “members” of the party that controls China, though her proposal does not define what that term means and that vagueness could ultimately sink the proposal.

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Rogers told the committee that the bill is inspired by similar legislation in Texas, which prohibits businesses from multiple countries, including China, Iran, North Korea and Russia, from accessing that state’s electrical grid. The legislation was in reaction to a Chinese billionaire who purchased land to build a wind farm near Laughlin Air Force Base. 

But unlike the Texas law, which prohibited countries such as China from having access to critical infrastructure, Rogers’ Senate Bill 1342 focuses solely on land ownership by the CCP. Senators expressed concern over extending the measure to include “members” of the CCP, and wondered how that would be enforced. 

“I’m not exactly sure how that is verified,” Senate Commerce Chair J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, said of CCP membership. According to the party itself, it has over 95 million members, which would make it the second largest political party in the world behind India’s Bharatiya Janata Party.

Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale, said she believed there needs to be a distinction between a CCP member and the government owning property in Rogers’ bill. However, not all her colleagues agreed that there is always a distinction between party membership and the government. 

Sen. David Livingston, R-Peoria, compared being a CCP member to being an “active duty military person.” 

“This is a formal initiation requirement for life that, if you break the rules, not only is your life at risk, your family is,” Livingston said. 

Many jobs in China are connected with party membership, and while there are reports of people joining the party in the hopes of better job prospects, some have found they still have not had greater opportunities. And once joining, it is often difficult to leave

“If you are upwardly mobile in China, you have to be in the party,” Rogers told the committee. 

Senate staffers were also unable to provide evidence to the committee that the Chinese Communisty Party actually owns any property in the state, but said they would bring that information back to the committee. 

”Parts of this bill sound a little like WWII, where we are flagging people based on party affiliation,” Sen. Tyler Pace, R-Mesa said, adding that he didn’t see any need for the bill. Still, he voted for the bill, saying he is “curious to see where this is going to go.” 

Ugenti-Rita said that while she doesn’t support the communist party and it’s actions, she didn’t see how the bill could be enforced — and banning people based on party registration troubled her. 

“I struggle because I don’t like just thoughts in a bill that are not mature enough,” Ugenti-Rita said before voting yes on the bill. “Let’s take the ride, let’s see where it goes.”

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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joins the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. Jerod has also won awards for his documentary films which have covered issues such as religious tolerance and surveillance technology used by police. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.

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