Two Florida Republicans seek to block China from acquiring more of America’s precious mineral deposits.
According to Florida Daily, GOP Reps. Michael Waltz of St. Augustine and Matt Gaetz of Fort Walton Beach filed a bill that would “prohibit the U.S. Department of the Interior from issuing, renewing, or allowing the transfer of any new or existing energy and mineral leases to any company owned, operated, or controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.”
The bill was filed a few days after Gaetz noted that China owns an oil rig in the northern Gulf of Mexico off Florida’s coast. As The Free Press reported, Gaetz believes the oil rig has “dual-use capability,” meaning it can be used for spying.
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Gaetz pointed out that Shell sold the facility to the communist nation in 2016 with the blessing of the Obama administration and over the objections of the U.S. Air Force — which, Gaetz said, feared its use as a “secret, intelligence-gathering platform masquerading as an oil rig in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico.”
Waltz’d bill, known as the “CCP Lease Abolishment for Minerals and Petroleum (CLAMP) Act,” is also sponsored by New Jersey Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer.
Waltz’s office told Florida Daily that the congressman filed the bill because China is skirting U.S. regulations.
Under current federal regulations, federal lands and waters leases can only be held by American citizens. Yet, foreign companies can sublease through American subsidiaries.
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Waltz’s office cited the China National Offshore Oil Corporation as an example. The company is owned by Li Fanrong, a member of the Chinese Communist Party, but it operates under an American subsidiary that holds stakes in two onshore shale oil projects in Texas and two offshore oil and gas projects in the Gulf of Mexico.
“The Chinese Communist is taking advantage of our free-market economy to exploit, steal, influence, and spy,” said Waltz. “We cannot continue to sit back and allow our greatest adversary to take control over resources that are integral to our industrial base and American consumers. The CCP has exploited loopholes for long enough”
In an unusual move for a Democrat, Rep. Gottheimer criticized the CCP for its willingness “to leverage technology and resources to breach United States institutions, steal our intellectual property, collect data on U.S. citizens, access the systems that handle our critical infrastructure, and control our country’s resources.”
“We must protect our national security from the CCP — an adversary that wants to do harm to America’s standing as the leader of the free world,” he added.
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“With this bipartisan legislation I’m introducing with Congressman Waltz, both Democrats and Republicans are coming together to stop the Chinese government from accessing our federal lands, waters, and critical natural resources.”
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