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General Atomics Eyes Chinese Construction Near AFB with Suspicion

Plans for Food Plant Could Allow For Electronic Warfare, Intelligence Gathering, and Spying, Says Manufacturer

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems is sounding the alarm on a Chinese agricultural development set to break ground near Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota. 

The defense manufacturer is urging the government to shut down the project due to national security concerns, saying that the large-scale corn milling plant will be far too close for comfort to a sensitive location for the industry. The proposed location lies on 370 acres in Grand Forks, only 15 miles from the air base. The location is home to a number of American defense industry entities and General Atomics fears that the proximity places some of their most cutting edge equipment within easy snooping distance of China's intelligence apparatus. The area is often used by General Atomics to test and evaluate their uncrewed aircraft, radar systems, and sensor performance in new and developing products, all targets of great interest for the Chinese government proven to be ready and willing to do the needful to stay abreast of peer developments.

Ergo, General Atomics requests some intervention to prevent the erection of a "corn milling plant", as the developers say they will build, because it "represents a major vulnerability for maintaining the necessary secrecy and integrity of classified weapons, communications frequencies, satellite connectivity and many other technologies vital to global security."

While it may seem like overkill to those unfamiliar with the Chinese state intelligence apparatus, it's all too easy to see through to those within the wider intelligence agency. The ubiquitous presence of the government in its citizen's lives all but assures that they will avail themselves of any intelligence gathering opportunity they can. 

“Chinese business efforts are inextricably linked with Chinese government efforts,” said General Atomics spokesman C. Mark Brinkley. “We can’t ignore the opportunity for sophisticated military espionage to co-locate itself within a Chinese business of such scale and scope. Given the proximity to critical national airspace and sensitive military operations on and around Grand Forks Air Force Base, American leaders should be very, very concerned. I know I am. So, we’ve got to act.”

How, exactly? The company recommends The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States or "another similar authority" must stop the corn mill project, Brinkley said, in view of the security risks it poses - for America's allies, too.

“We understand the significant economic opportunities this proposed agricultural project represents for the people of Grand Forks and the state of North Dakota,” Brinkley said. “But no measure of assurances from the company can ever offset the tremendous risk being introduced. The strategic national security value of Grand Forks cannot be overstated, and that’s why we’re asking the U.S. government to act swiftly to protect this asset.”



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