By Emel Akan
December 30, 2020 Updated: December 30, 2020
WASHINGTON—A proposed wind farm project in West Texas has become a potential national security issue due to its Chinese owner who has ties to the communist regime in Beijing and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), experts say.
A Chinese-owned company called GH America Investment Group since 2015 has bought 130,000 acres of land—an area the size of Tulsa, Oklahoma—in Val Verde County, Texas. The man behind the investment firm is Sun Guangxin, a businessman from Xinjiang, China, who is described as a “carpetbagger” by Chinese media with strong ties to the communist regime, The Epoch Times previously has reported.
Sun, a former PLA officer, is currently the richest person in the western Xinjiang region, with a net worth of $1.9 billion, according to Forbes. He was also the vice chairman of the Xinjiang Provincial Youth Federation.
Sun’s investment company acquired the land to build wind farms, with a proposal to install 50 to 130 wind turbines.
A CFIUS panel chaired by the Treasury Department reviewed the acquisition and found that the wind farm didn’t pose a national security threat. However, an expert familiar with the project in Texas told The Epoch Times that there are a number of potential national security concerns about the Chinese control over the land.
“Allowing an adversary to connect to our power grid enables the attacker to perform a false data injection attack—where the attacker spoofs the system’s monitoring tools to falsely think activity is happening on the grid,” he wrote.
On May 1, President Donald Trump issued an executive order to address such “malicious” cyberattacks on the U.S. bulk-power system.
He highlighted risks, stating that “a successful attack on our bulk-power system would present significant risks to our economy, human health and safety, and would render the United States less capable of acting in defense of itself and its allies.”
About 95 percent of land in Texas is privately owned; private ownership combined with loose regulations in the state makes property purchases easier for foreign buyers.
In Texas, there’s also a high bar for authorities to interfere with the development of wind farms due to a bill on electric utility restructuring signed into law in 1999 by then-Gov. George W. Bush, which mandates the development of renewable electric power generation.
The planned wind farm is situated within 30 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, and also is in close proximity to Laughlin Air Force Base, the Air Force’s largest pilot training facility, which could pose several issues, according to national security experts. These issues include cybersecurity threats against flight training, collecting intelligence on flight patterns and pilots, as well as electronic surveillance of the Mexican border.
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