DeSantis signs bills banning Chinese citizens from buying land in Florida

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Photograph: Rebecca Blackwell/AP

Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida signed a series of bills Monday that bans Chinese citizens from buying land in the state.

In a recent news release, the Republican announced his signing of that bill and two others which are meant to “counteract” what he described as “the malign influence of the Chinese Communist party in the state of Florida”.

One bill restricts Chinese nationals from buying land in Florida unless they are also American citizens or permanent residents.

Chinese citizens with non-tourist visas, meanwhile, would be limited to buying fewer than two acres of land that is at least five miles away from any military institutions, the Tampa Bay television news outlet WTVT reported.

The bill also restricts foreign citizens of other countries from buying land under certain circumstances. Russian, Iranian, Cuban, Syrian, North Korean and Venezuelan citizens are not allowed to purchase land within 10 miles of military bases under the measure but can still buy property elsewhere in Florida, Insider reported.

Critics have warned that the bill could facilitate discrimination against Chinese homeowners in Florida while also harming other immigrants, Axios reported.

Last month, ahead of the bill’s signing, more than 100 protesters testified against the legislation, adding that it would discriminate against Florida’s Chinese population, USA Today reported.

“My concern is this bill will affect people like me who want to own a home,” said Florida college student Victoria Li, through tears. “We’re scared, we’re terrified. That’s what we came here for. We have the American dream. That’s why, at my age, I’m still going to school.”

Other legislation signed on Monday includes a bill that prohibits colleges and universities as well as their employees from accepting gifts while “in their official capacities from a college or university based in a foreign country of concern”, the Hill reported.

Colleges and universities within Florida are also required to get approval from the state’s board of governors or board of education before participating in any agreement or partnership with a university in a foreign country.

An additional bill restricts those using government devices and servers from downloading applications such as TikTok, which is owned by a Chinese company, the Hill added.

“Florida is taking action to stand against the United States’ greatest geopolitical threat – the Chinese Communist party,” DeSantis said.

The bills are collectively scheduled to go into effect on 1 July.

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