Chinese Company Ordered to Sell Land Near Nuclear Missile Base

3

Debacle in Wyoming: Chinese-Backed Crypto Mining Firm Forced to Divest Amidst National Security Concerns

In a move reminiscent of the Cold War, President Joe Biden has ordered a Chinese-backed cryptocurrency mining company to sell land near a Wyoming nuclear missile base. This unprecedented action sends a clear message to geopolitical players and highlights the growing tensions between the world’s two largest economies.

Cryptocurrency Mining and Nuclear Missile Proximity: A Security Risk

In June 2022, MineOne, a British Virgin Islands firm largely owned by Chinese nationals, acquired real estate a mere mile away from the Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, a cornerstone of America’s nuclear defense system. The White House expressed concern that the company’s operations could facilitate surveillance and espionage, posing a threat to national security.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen delivers remarks at the Treasury Department's Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States conference at the Treasury Department in Washington, DC, on September 14, 2023.

President Biden’s order, issued with “credible evidence” to support its claims, gives MineOne 120 days to divest from the land and remove potentially hazardous equipment.

Crackdown on Chinese Companies Intensifies

The MineOne incident reflects the broader crackdown on Chinese companies in the US. As the presidential elections loom and tensions escalate, the Biden administration has taken a more assertive stance against perceived threats to national security.

In recent months, TikTok, a popular Chinese-owned social media platform, was forced to undergo a divestiture process. Additionally, new tariffs on Chinese imports are expected to be imposed shortly.

CFIUS’s Broader Powers and Scrutiny

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), chaired by the Treasury Department, played a crucial role in investigating MineOne. CFIUS possesses the authority to scrutinize property transactions near sensitive US facilities and has launched investigations into companies like TikTok.

In September, President Biden issued an executive order empowering CFIUS to consider a wider range of national security risk factors in its assessments.

Mutual Scrutiny and Geopolitical Tensions

China has not remained idle in this escalating geopolitical stand-off. Citing national security concerns, it has strengthened laws regarding the sharing of state secrets and cracked down on foreign consultancy firms.

The reciprocal scrutiny and restrictions underscore the deteriorating trust and heightening tensions between the US and China.

Cybersecurity and Geopolitics Intertwined

The MineOne case highlights the intersection of cybersecurity and geopolitical competition. As technology advances and globalization intensifies, nations are increasingly aware of the potential vulnerabilities posed by foreign companies operating near critical infrastructure.

The balance between national security and international commerce is proving to be a delicate one, and the Biden administration’s actions serve as a stark reminder of the stakes involved.