(The Center Square) – A bill banning some foreign companies from engaging in any type of critical infrastructure business in Texas is one step closer to becoming law.
SB 2116, the “Lone Star Infrastructure Protection Act,” filed by Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, bans all contracts or agreements in Texas with foreign-owned companies related to critical infrastructure in Texas. The bill unanimously passed both chambers of the state legislature and awaits Gov. Greg Abbott’s signature. If he signs it, the bill becomes law effective immediately.
“Access to critical infrastructure within the state of Texas should not be open to companies owned and controlled by the governments of aggressor nations,” Campbell wrote in a Facebook post to constituents.
Critical infrastructure refers to the state’s power grid, water treatment or chemical facilities, communication systems and cyber networks.
The law prohibits everyone in Texas from entering into contracts with businesses or government officials from “China, Iran, North Korea, Russia, or a country designated" by the Texas governor as a threat to critical infrastructure.
The issue is one of national security for Texas and the U.S., Kyle Bass, founder and principal of Hayman Capital Management, a founding member of the Committee on the Present Danger: China, argues.
Bass testified before the Texas Senate claiming that Sun Guangxin, a Chinese billionaire, is a former Chinese People’s Liberation Army general who bought over 130,000 acres of Texan land within miles of Laughlin Air Force base. The base is the largest air force pilot training base in the U.S., located east of Del Rio, Texas.
Sun’s company, Xinjiang Guanghui Industry Investment Group, employs 6,000 CCP members, and his two closest advisors are ex-PLA generals, Bass claims. Sun runs 40 local branches of the CCP, grassroots branches, Bass says.
Guangxin owns two-thirds of the real estate in the capital of Xinjiang, China, where the concentration camps detaining ethnic Uyghur Muslims are located, Bass adds.
The Uyghur’s are used as forced labor to make a range of products shipped to the U.S. by major brands like Adidas, Calvin Klein, Coca-Cola Company, Costco, H&M, Nike, Tommy Hilfiger and others, according to a March 2020 report published by the Congressional Executive Commission on China.
Some of the components of Chromebooks and laptops purchased by public schools nationwide last year were produced by Uygher Muslim laborers, according to the Associated Press.
The Washington Post also reported that Apple supplier Lens Technology uses Uighur forced labor in its factories. And in a spring 2020 report, Uyghurs For Sale, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute found that at least 83 household-name brands are “potentially directly or indirectly benefiting from the use of Uyghur workers outside Xinjiang through abusive labor transfer programs as recently as 2019.”
The bipartisan Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act was introduced last spring in Congress to prevent American companies from using Uygher forced labored products. The bill passed the U.S. House, but not the Senate. It was reintroduced again this year and passed the U.S. House in February.
In addition to reportedly owning the land where the forced laborers are held, Sun now owns 200 square miles of Texas land between Laughlin Air Force Base and the border of the U.S. and Mexico.
His company’s subsidiary, GH America, sought to construct 700-foot tall wind turbines as part of a “Blue Hills Wind Farm” in the vastly remote Devil's River area where little-to-no wind blows, strategically located miles from Laughlin’s pilot training operations.
Local Texans raised alarm to lawmakers, prompting Campbell to file the Lone Star Infrastructure bill.
Stephen Lindsey, a GH America vice president, told News 4 San Antonio that the wind farm would not be a threat to Texas even though it would rely on the state’s power grid. He also said he didn’t know if Guangxin had ties to the Chinese Communist Party. He told the news station that Sun is not a former general.
“The protection of critical infrastructure is vital to the protection of military capabilities, United States national security, safety of Texans, and the operation of the Texas economy,” Campbell said.