Follow Us

South Dakota's Kristi Noem creates model for states to rein in China without Biden

The Republican governor is targeting everything from Chinese purchases of farmland to Beijing investments, and even TikTok.

Published: December 11, 2022 9:02am

Updated: December 11, 2022 11:06pm

South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, long a champion of federalism, is creating a model for states eager to rein in China's creeping influence across the United States even when the Biden administration fails to act.

Noem's latest strike came last week when she pressured the South Dakota Investment Council to divest from companies that pose a threat to U.S. national security, like those in Communist China, ordering a review to be completed within seven days.

"South Dakotans deserve to know if their taxpayer dollars are being invested to benefit the Chinese Communist Party," Noem said Thursday. "The Investment Council has ensured that South Dakota has the best-funded pension in the country. But it is not possible to make good deals with bad people."

The governor's investment action came a week after she signed an executive order banning the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok from all state computers and phones.

Noem told the "Just the News, No Noise" television show that state employees who violate the ban can be criminally prosecuted if TikTok is found on their state devices.

Her order was driven by new intelligence showing "how the Chinese government and the CCP is using the information they're gathering off of TikTok to threaten the United States of America, to learn more about our habits, what we search," she explained, "and how they are manipulating the algorithms to collect data, possibly even financial information, passwords, health information, personal information, not just what kind of videos people like to look at.

"We know that their agenda is to use it against us and that they are an enemy. They hate us as the United States of America. And it's our job to take applications like this and treat them exactly how we should, and that is not allowing them to be used detrimentally to hurt people who live in this country." 

Noem's order spurred at least four other states — including Texas, Maryland, Oklahoma and Tennessee — to take similar action last week.

Noem is also looking at ways to stall China from renting farmland in her state after recent revelations that Beijing has bought up farmland across the United States, including near a U.S. military base in neighboring North Dakota. 

South Dakota passed a law four decades ago banning foreign ownership of most farmland, but Noem told Just the News she is looking for ways to thwart Beijing's efforts to make end-runs around that ban through rental agreements.

"I'm reexamining that," she said, "and looking to bring legislation that will not only address purchasing of land, but also make sure that those who hate us and other foreign entities can't have long-term leases, that they can't come in and lock up land for an agenda that isn't good for these people that live here in South Dakota, but also our country.

"I think it's important that we recognize that not only does China manipulate their currency, steal our intellectual property, that they are building up their military, that they're purchasing our food supply chains, [but] they also will do this by purchasing land around us next to military bases and also food supply, you know, land that is used for that purpose to harm us and that we take action to make sure that doesn't happen." 

Noem's aggressive actions come as the Biden administration has sent mixed messages on its willingness to confront China.

While the Biden Defense Department, intelligence agencies, and the FBI have warned about Beijing's military aggression in the Pacific, the dangers of TikTok and growing espionage efforts on U.S. soil that include Chinese police stations in U.S. cities, Biden has taken a softer tone.

For instance, he and the Democrat Party continued to use TikTok to reach young voters during the midterm elections despite his own intelligence agencies warnings about its privacy and security implications. The administration is even trying to reach a deal to let TikTok stay operational in the United States, reversing an effort to ban the platform that began under Donald Trump.

The Biden Justice Department also shut down a major FBI effort to root out suspected Chinese spies burrowed into U.S. academia. The move came just a few weeks after FBI Director Christopher Wray issued a warning about China's aggressive intelligence operations on American soil.

Noem wrote an op-ed last week in the Wall Street Journal imploring fellow governors to act creatively and not be hampered by the Biden administration's approach on China.

"Many American intelligence officials believe that the Chinese Communist Party poses the greatest threat to the U.S., and most American people agree," she wrote. "If Biden won't take this threat seriously, then Congress and state governments must fill the gap."

In her interview with "Just the News, Not Noise," Noem explained why she is emboldened to use state rights to fill a gap when the federal government is underperforming.

"It's incredibly important that we, as governors, do our job, recognize what authority we have and what authority we do not have, and that we take action," she said. "We don't just stand up and talk about what needs to be fixed or hold press conferences, we actually do something about it."

Just the News Spotlight

Support Just the News