With tensions already high between the U.S. and China over the coronavirus pandemic, there might be another issue for the Trump administration to raise with Beijing. A Chinese-owned company called GH America Investment Group has purchased 130,000 acres of land in Val Verde County, in West Texas. There, they plan to build a massive series of turbines called the Blue Hills Wind Farm.
The project has raised an alarm with some foreign policy experts, who call it a threat to national security. At issue is the land's location near Laughlin Air Force Base--a major training ground for U.S. pilots--along with concerns about China gaining access to U.S. infrastructure, including the Texas electric grid.
Rodger Baker, strategic foreign policy analyst at Stratfor, a RANE company, doesn't call the project an outright threat to national security, but agrees there is reason for skepticism. "Clearly there are some issues with building the wind farm in that location in regards to pilot training at Laughlin Air Force Base, and there are always questions about Chinese espionage," says Baker. "China sees the United States as a strategic competitor, and is really working hard to step up its collection of information...that is an issue the United States needs to be concerned about."
There are also questions about the project's financial backers. "The relationship between this organization (GH America) and its parent company, which operates out of China," says Baker. "That could be an issue for people who are concerned about investments and their impact on human rights."
Critics want the Trump administration to step in and review whether the project is even legal, based on the nearby military installation and legislation recently signed by the president sanctioning Chinese officials who do business in the U.S. Baker agrees there is room for scrutiny, but thinks some critics may be going too far in their opposition. "Overreacting at times, and directly going against every possible Chinese involvement or Chinese engagement in the United States may ultimately backfire," he says.