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Taking on China to defend our Montana way of life

by U.S. Senator JON TESTER
| May 26, 2023 7:00 AM

With the weather finally warming up here for spring time, I’ve been spending a lot of time out on my tractor finishing up planting. 

Every year, I plant my fields with crops like wheat, barley, peas, and millet. The days are long – Sharla and I start early in the morning and work late until the job is done – but as Montanans know, hard work is rewarding and always reminds us how lucky we are to live here in Montana.

Our Montana way of life is what makes us The Last Best Place, and it’s worth defending for our kids and grandkids.

Unfortunately, it’s no secret that there are hostile countries who don’t respect our Montana values and want to undermine America’s place as the world’s leading economic and military superpower.  

I won’t sugarcoat it: the Chinese Communist Party is the pacing threat facing our country and they want to take our place on the world stage.

Montanans deeply value our freedom and privacy and China is working to undermine those American values right before our eyes.

We can’t let that happen.

It was only a few short months ago that Montanans were able to literally look up into the sky and see China’s direct threat floating across our airspace. The Chinese spy balloon that we watched drift across our state – including over Malmstrom Air Force Base, the home of our intercontinental ballistic missiles – was an unacceptable incursion and one that should never be tolerated.

I have been a leading voice in the Senate to get answers about the spy balloon and I’ll hold anyone in Washington accountable until we make sure our military has the tools they need to prevent it from ever happening again.

And while the spy balloon certainly got a lot of headlines, the truth is that China has been working to undermine us for a long time now. It’s not just our airspace – you may have heard that China is also trying to buy up Montana’s and America’s farmland.

As a third-generation farmer, I know that China buying up our farmland poses two threats: it would hurt our food security and our national security. Montana farmers and ranchers feed the world, and if China is able to disrupt our food supply, the impact would be devastating for agribusinesses and consumers.

And allowing China to own farmland near sensitive military sites, like we’ve seen happen in North Dakota, is an obvious and direct threat to our national security. We can never let this happen, so I’m working with my colleagues in Congress to pass a law that will prevent China and other hostile countries from ever buying American farmland. 

It's clear that China is actively working to undermine Montana and our country from all angles and the alarm bell is ringing loudly. Too many folks in Washington like to make a lot of noise about issues facing our country but don’t seem to take much action. But that’s not the Montana way.

Montanans have always expected their elected leaders to work across the aisle to deliver real, lasting results for our state and our national security. 

As the Senator who oversees our country’s defense budget, I’m working hard to ensure we secure a budget that gives our military all the tools they need to defend our freedoms and stay ahead of the pacing threat of China.

I’ve worked with both Republicans and Democrats to pass legislation investing in American manufacturing, so that we are not reliant on China for things like computer chips and semiconductors. And I’ll continue fighting to stop China from spying on Americans, whether it’s in our airspace or on our farmland. 

At the end of the day, I will always do what’s best for Montana. It’s the only place Sharla and I have ever called home, so you've got my word that I'll continue holding anyone accountable to protect Montana values, and ensure America maintains our rightful position as the world's premier economic and military power.

Just like the work I do on the farm, I won’t rest until the job is done.