North Dakota (KXNET) —For Tuesday’s KX Conversation Josh Meny sat down with U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer to talk about an issue that has the potential to deeply divide the republican party here and nationally.
The following is a full transcription of their conversation. Josh’s questions and statements are labeled in italics.
It drives a wedge between the Chamber of Commerce, globalist free traders, and national security types like Senator Marco Rubio in the GOP, and yourself Senator Cramer. So, Governor Burgum, [was an] early supporter of the FuFeng project, he’s now deferring to local. The CIFIUS review, it came back, it’s punting back to local. Where does this put you?
“Yeah. So I’m still in the same place I was from the beginning. And that is I oppose the Fufeng investment. And there’s nothing I’ve learned in recent days, that makes me any more comfortable with it. So, a couple of things. I think that you’re seeing in all of this, that people’s sort of positions on China, in general, have been evolving, rightfully so long ago, and you know, not so terribly long ago, really, when China was allowed into the World Trade Organization given, you know, normal relations, if you will trade relations with the United States. The hope was that China would be so taken by Freedom that they would naturally adopt it, that capitalism would replace communism, that clearly didn’t happen. In fact, they took full advantage of our openness. I think that people are all evolving, some at different paces. As you know, for about a year, now my position has been I think we should have a strategic decoupling from China, I think others to your point globalist, The Chamber, they still see China as a relevant partner. But nobody sees China as a trustworthy partner anymore. I’m quite certain. And in Congress, I don’t know anybody that’s pro-China,” said U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer.
Now CIFIUS said they don’t have jurisdiction. But there’s an important distinction here. They’re not giving the Fufeng project a green light?
“That’s correct. CFIUS In their conclusion, and I’ve had a briefing from the CFIUS organization to CFIUS agencies as a senator over together and a number of us a number of Republicans and Democratic members, mostly leaders in intelligence and banking. And they made it very clear that their conclusion was that it is non-jurisdiction, not that it was a green light. In fact, they shared a lot of information, including some of the other agencies, and all of that being confidential and classified at this time. Given that it was not jurisdictional, they’re just not able to make a conclusion, but very clearly, it was not based on its merits,” explained Cramer.
Now, this gets punted back to the local level. Governor Burgum. Again, early supporter now, deferring back to the local level, the mayor of Grand Forks supports the project, is this out of your control? Can you do anything else?
“Well, it’s never been in my control. And I’ll continue to do things. I’ll continue to seek these, these briefings. I’ve now had two one with Treasury, and DOD, the other one with the second Department of the Air Force and intelligence. Nothing I’ve heard, again makes me more comfortable. We’ll keep asking specific questions, sharing whatever specific information we’re allowed to share. But at the end of the day, it is really obvious that China uses corporate relationships uses, you know, purchases and uses trade relationships to both spy on and then to undermine the credibility of the United States and other countries. And I just don’t think we should be a participant in that,” said Cramer.
And this is just the beginning. We just saw Governor Kristi Noem from South Dakota banning Tiktok, asking her state investment board to look at their Chinese exposure. Governor Burgum here in North Dakota ban Tiktok. This is like you’re saying this is something that’s evolving.
“The omnibus spending bill that passed the Senate last week and now was signed by the President after it passed the House on Friday bans Tiktok from all federal government devices. So there is no question that the strategic decoupling between the United States and China is taking place one step at a time. I just don’t think now’s the time for early new investment by Chinese Communist Party investors in North Dakota in the United States is appropriate. I think you’re going to see more legislation introduced in this next Congress. There’s already been some introduced, it’ll have to come up again, that relating to purchasing of farmland, prohibiting that giving CFIUS has jurisdiction over these types of investments. I believe that there read the Treasury Department’s read and DOJ really was the Department of Justice that that came down on this site. I think their read of it was too narrow. I think they do have jurisdiction given the proximity to the Grand Force Air Force Base,” explained Cramer.
Was there a failure on CFIUS’s part?
“Yeah, I think there was. I think CFIUS punted for whatever reason. The reason they gave was the issue of jurisdiction was just not clear enough to them that they have jurisdiction. I think that’s their reading. You know, two lawyers from the same firm can look at the same issue. One determines jurisdiction, one not. One determines yay, one nay. In this case, they just took the politically safe route and just punted and said we don’t have jurisdiction. So, I think CFIUS failed. I think we need to tighten CFIUS up. There’s legislation to do that. There is no doubt it will be reintroduced now in the next session of Congress. Now that CFIUS is done with their review, I’ll feel free-er to participate in that legislative process aggressively, and tighten things up so it’s not so clumsy for the future,” explained Cramer.