In the News
U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn of Panama City wants people to know the communist threat from China is real — and it’s here, on (and not just floating over) American soil.
While the recently shot-down Chinese spy balloon dominated headlines earlier this month, Dunn wants Americans to remain cognizant that there’s a tangible threat to U.S. sovereignty happening at ground level too.
To highlight his point, Dunn held an event Saturday with fellow Republican Congressmen Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin and Ritchie Torres of New York on Saturday at a Chinese “police station” the FBI raided it last month.
The existence of that outpost, one of more than 100 worldwide suspected of conducting foreign police operations for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) without jurisdiction or diplomatic approval, is evidence China has little respect for President Joe Biden, Dunn said.
“By opening unauthorized ‘police stations,’ the CCP prove they do not take the Biden administration seriously,” he said.
“We must protect our citizens and the many asylum seekers who have taken refuge in our nation, (and) I’m proud to stand alongside my colleagues as we work to expose the CCP’s many human rights violations and aggressions.”
Dunn is a member of the House Select Committee on Strategic Competition between the U.S. and the Chinese Communist Party, a new, bipartisan panel whose membership also includes Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Giménez of Miami and Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa.
Gallagher told Fox News he hopes the Saturday event will “draw attention to the issue” and increase pressure on the Justice Department and FBI to be more proactive.
“This isn’t happening in Beijing or Hong Kong or in some distance province; it is happening right here on American soil,” he said. “We want the FBI and DOJ to be acting aggressively to defend our sovereignty and, certainly, defend American citizens.”
FBI Director Christopher Wray said he knew about the CCP stations during a U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing in November, when he also detailed China’s broad, stateside hacking and data-harvesting efforts.
China has stolen more American business and personal information than all other nations combined, he said, singling out the social media app, TikTok, as a key data-harvesting tool.
The CCP police station, he said, is an “outrageous” overstep.
“It violates sovereignty and circumvents standard judicial and law enforcement cooperation practices.”
Dunn is also continuing to look into ties the CCP has with Austal USA, the U.S. subsidiary of an Australian shipbuilding and defense company that won a $3.3 billion contract last June with the U.S. Coast Guard for offshore patrol. Since Austal secured the deal over Panama City’s Eastern Shipbuilding Group, Dunn has pursued an investigation of Austal’s joint venture with Jianglong Shipbuilding Co., headquartered in Gaungdong, China, and the potential threat to American national security.
Dunn’s office Saturday said he will seek more investigative action as a member of the China Select Committee.
“It is alarming that a company that has won multiple defense and homeland security contracts has close ties to the CCP,” he said in a statement. “This is a national security threat and deserves more attention than it is getting.”
Earlier this month, China drew condemnation after the Biden administration confirmed a spy balloon seen drifting across the country was of Chinese origin. The U.S. military later shot the balloon down over the ocean and recovered the debris for examination.
In Florida, Bipartisan concern among officials of Chinese encroachment across the Sunshine State inspired new state legislation pending review in the upcoming Legislative Session.
This month, Boca Raton Sen. Lori Berman and Wellington Rep. Katherine Waldron — both Democrats — filed twin bills that would ban the CCP from buying land in Florida within 50 miles of military bases or other “strategic assets,” including water treatment facilities, power plants, police stations and telecommunication towers.
The bills echo legislation restricting foreign control of Florida’s agricultural and military land that Gov. Ron DeSantis, Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson, Sen. Jay Collins and Rep. David Borrero — all Republicans — called for previously.
DeSantis said in January he wanted a ban “as broad as possible” on “hostile” land purchases by the Chinese government.
“If you look at the Chinese Communist Party, they’ve been very active throughout the Western Hemisphere in gobbling up land and investing in different things,” he said. “And, you know, when they have interests that are opposed to ours, and you’ve seen how they’ve wielded their authority — especially with President Xi (Jinping), who’s taken a much more Marxist-Leninist turn since he’s been ruling China — that is not in the best interest of Florida, to have the Chinese Communist Party owning farmland, owning land close to military bases.”
Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at Jesse@FloridaPolitics.com and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.