Deep in the Heart of Texas, a Chinese Wind Farm Raises Eyebrows

Deep in the Heart of Texas, a Chinese Wind Farm Raises Eyebrows

  • Members of Congress fear Beijing could use the facility for espionage and economic warfare. But the Trump administration is set to let it move forward.

The Trump administration will not block a Chinese-owned company from building a wind farm in Texas near the Air Force’s largest pilot training base, a person familiar with the decision told Foreign Policy, allowing a project to move forward that lawmakers fear could be used to spy on American troops, disrupt flight routes, and give Beijing a foothold in the U.S. electrical grid.

The decision comes after an analysis from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a panel of different federal agencies that examines the impact of foreign investments in the United States, found that the wind farm does not currently pose a national security concern. But GH America Energy, the U.S. unit of a Chinese firm, must still mitigate the impact of wind turbines that could interfere with low-level flight training routes at Laughlin Air Force Base. Those plans are currently under review in a separate process led by the Air Force and the Defense Department’s Military Aviation and Installation Assurance Siting Clearinghouse.

For years the Trump administration has been on a collision course with China over trade, geopolitics, and, now, the coronavirus pandemic. Amid a groundswell of anti-China sentiment in Washington, top administration officials have begun hammering other countries, including close allies, for allowing Chinese investment in their critical infrastructure and other industries relevant to national security. 

Now, the prospect of turbines cropping up at the Blue Hills Wind development, just a few dozen miles from the U.S.-Mexico border and the limestone bedrock of the Edwards Plateau, has brought the U.S. competition with China to an unlikely place: the small town of Del Rio, Texas, home to Laughlin and a dryland paradise for nature lovers and hunters that boasts ancient rock art dating back before the days of the Egyptian pharaohs.