South Carolina’s Senate passed a bill preventing “alien land ownership” on Thursday.
Approved by a 31-5 vote, the bill will prevent citizens of “foreign adversaries” from buying property in the state. As defined by the U.S. Department of Commerce, foreign adversary countries include China, Russia, Cuba, Iran and North Korea.
The bill aims to prevent “corporations controlled by a foreign adversary” from acquiring real property and “reduce the amount of real property that an alien or corporation may acquire.”
The bill is expected to impact Chinese-owned companies, even if only partially owned.
Chinese citizens would also be prevented from collectively owning more than 20% of a landowning company or individually owning more than 10%.
Thus, while those with “adversary” nation citizenship would be able to open local businesses, they would be unable to own the land needed for operations.
Chinese citizens will also be banned from buying any new property.
Exceptions to the bill include U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents of the U.S. and foreign citizens purchasing land under five acres for residential purposes.
According to AP News, the bill’s leading sponsor, Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, was prompted to introduce the bill in late February to prevent a Chinese biomedical company’s $28 million purchase of 500 acres within the state.
Referring to the Trojan Horse Greek myth, Massey stated:
We need to look inside that wooden horse before we let it in the gate. And there are some countries that have given us more of a reason to look inside the wooden horse before we let it in the gate. These five [countries] have specifically given us reason to have more scrutiny and to be a little bit more concerned.