In a 5-0 vote, the Grand Forks City Council (GFCC) rejected on Feb. 6 the Fufeng Group’s proposal to open a corn mill within the vicinity of the Grand Forks Air Force Base (AFB). Fufeng, which is based in China’s eastern Shandong Province, purchased 370 acres of land in Grand Forks for $2.6 million in 2022. However, the property is located 12 miles from the base – which houses a space networking center described as “the backbone of all U.S. military communications across the globe.”
The project had previously received the backing of local leadership, with it being cited as a potential boon to the local economy. Many residents expressed frustration when some council members, city employees and even Grand Forks Mayor Brandon Bochenski supported Fufeng’s proposal.
One citizen identified as Mr. Coachman suggested that the only motivation to do so was “treason,” asking how come would an individual or a company be involved with somebody that is aggressive to the United States. He remarked: “Especially if they’re an adversary against us? The only conclusion I come up with is money, blackmail prestige, power, sedition, treason. I’m not understanding, why would you advocate for it?”
The decision to halt the project followed a Jan. 27 letter penned by Air Force Assistant Secretary Andrew Hunter to Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), which described Fufeng’s plan as a national security concern. This raised suspicions from military officers, national security experts and lawmakers, who felt the property could give China unprecedented access to the goings-on at the military base. Given that the military does not have the jurisdiction to stop the corn mill, Hoeven and his Republican colleague Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) publicized the letter a week before the GFCC met to tackle the project.
US intel: Chinese military is surveilling America via the spy balloon
This impending opening of the farm and corn mill also prompted worries after an alleged spy balloon was shot down over U.S. airspace last weekend. The operation is part of an extensive surveillance program run by the Chinese military, according to multiple American officials familiar with the intelligence.
Officials told CNN that the surveillance program, which includes a number of similar balloons, is in part run out of the small Chinese province of Hainan. However, sources told the news outlet that the program has conducted at least two dozen missions over at least five continents in recent years, with roughly half a dozen of those flights happening within the U.S. airspace. (Related: Communist China admits to flying spy balloon over military sites.)
Concerned citizens condemned President Joe Biden and the Department of Defense (DoD) for initially not stopping the Chinese “spy balloon operations,” which took place from Jan. 28 to Feb. 4. Pentagon did not shoot it down because of the “risk of debris.” DoD eventually did so on Saturday afternoon, Feb. 4. The retrieved balloon debris was about 200 ft. tall, with the payload portion comparable in size to regional airliners and weighing hundreds or potentially thousands of pounds, according to officials.
According to Fox News, China confirmed last week that the balloon craft floating over northern America is Chinese and it is a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said: “Affected by the Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course.”
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Watch Fox News host Tucker Carlson blast President Joe Biden for claiming China’s spy balloon “posed no threat” to national security.
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