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Haley Campaign Press Release - New York Post: DeSantis' Record on China in Florida Poses National Security Risk?

November 05, 2023

CHARLESTON, S.C. — According to new reporting from the New York Post, Ron DeSantis allowed a subsidiary of a US-sanctioned Chinese company to expand fewer than 15 miles away from a Florida military base. The move poses a national security risk according to experts cited in the article.

Florida-based Cirrus Aircraft is a China-owned subsidiary of Aviation Industry Corp. (AVIC) of China. AVIC was sanctioned by the U.S. government in 2020. Two years later, Ron DeSantis allowed Cirrus Aircraft to expand right near a military base. And then he posed in front of a Cirrus plane during a campaign stop about China.

DeSantis stands in front of aircraft donning Cirrus insignia while delivering a speech on Biden's weakness on China. GovRonDeSantis/Facebook

"Ron DeSantis is spending millions of dollars attacking Nikki Haley for bringing a fiber glass company to South Carolina nearly 10 years ago, but he's allowing a Chinese Communist Party-owned company to expand near a Florida military base as recently as last year," said campaign spokesperson Nachama Soloveichik. "As DeSantis tries to revive his comatose campaign, it's clear he'll lie about anything and everything."

According to the New York Post:

China-owned company expanded near Florida base under DeSantis governorship

By: Diana Glebova

Published Nov. 5, 2023

Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis, who has touted his tough stance toward China, stayed quiet when a subsidiary of a US-sanctioned Chinese company expanded fewer than 15 miles away from a Florida military base during his time as the state's governor.

On the campaign trail, the 45-year-old DeSantis has said he would "reorient" US foreign policy to prioritize the Indo-Pacific region and signed legislation preventing Chinese Communist Party affiliates from purchasing land near military bases.

Cirrus Aircraft — a subsidiary of Aviation Industry Corp. (AVIC) of China — opened two new locations in central Florida in 2022.

One of those was at the Orlando Executive Airport, 12.7 miles away from the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division.

AVIC makes fighter jets, helicopters and drones for the Chinese military. In 2020, the US deemed AVIC to be a possible national security threat and imposed sanctions on the company as part of an initiative to stop the growth of firms tied to Beijing's People's Liberation Army.

DeSantis said nothing publicly about the expansion of Cirrus in his state at the time — and in February of 2023, he delivered remarks in front of a Cirrus SR 22 aircraft while criticizing President Biden's response to the Chinese spy balloon fiasco.

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Cirrus, although not being subject to sanctions itself, could pose a national security risk to the US due to its connection to AVIC, defense experts told The Post. There is no sign the US government will crack down on Cirrus anytime soon, and the federal government has not accused the company of any wrongdoing.

"It is unnecessarily risky to allow subsidiary companies of Chinese firms that have been listed as sanctioned to operate," said retired Rear Adm. Mark Montgomery, senior director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies' Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation. "The parent company has already failed to meet a standard of transparency that got them on that [sanctions] list."

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A June Cirrus prospectus filed with the Hong Kong stock exchange showed the company's employees do have ties to other AVIC subsidiaries sanctioned by the US. Cirrus Vice-Chairman Hui Wang is a director of AVIC Heavy Machinery Co. — a company sanctioned by the US Treasury Department and listed by the Pentagon as a Chinese military company, Bloomberg reported. An additional Cirrus director is on the board of two US-sanctioned AVIC subsidiaries, according to the outlet.

Nikki Haley, Haley Campaign Press Release - New York Post: DeSantis' Record on China in Florida Poses National Security Risk? Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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