MINOT, N.D. — The debate over a corn milling plant to be built in Grand Forks has been broiling for a while now.
Heated debates about these sort of projects aren’t unusual, but typically they don’t make statewide or even national headlines, because they’re rooted in disagreements over things like zoning and local tax breaks. But this project has ignited debate because the company that wants to build the facility is based in China, a country ruled by cruelly authoritarian communists who aren’t shy about using their country’s economic reach in pursuit of things like espionage.
Supporters of the Fufeng facility dismiss this debate as some modern iteration of red scare politics. Fufeng isn’t owned by the Chinese government, they argue, and doesn’t pose any threat to our state or our country.
To the former point, it’s hard to see the distinctions of private ownership under a smothering authoritarian regime like China’s, and to the latter, we have news that national security concerns aren’t just the talking points of overheated participants at local public meetings .
A recent CNBC report indicated that, while the U.S. Air Force, which operates the Grand Forks Air Force Base near where this plant would be built, hasn’t taken an official stance on the facility, internally there’s been a debate about the threat it would pose.