Chinese-backed crypto firm must sell Wyoming land plot and get rid of equipment possibly capable of ‘espionage activities,’ says President Biden

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President Joe Biden on Monday issued an order blocking a Chinese-backed cryptocurrency mining firm from owning land near a Wyoming nuclear missile base, calling its proximity to the base a “national security risk.”

The order forces the divestment of property operated as a crypto mining facility near the Francis E. Warren Air Force Base. MineOne Partners Ltd., a firm partly backed by Chinese nationals, and its affiliates are also required to remove certain equipment on the site.

This comes as the U.S. is slated on Tuesday to issue major new tariffs on electric vehicles, semiconductors, solar equipment and medical supplies imported from China, according to a U.S. official and another person familiar with the plan.

And with election season in full swing, both Biden and his presumptive Republican challenger, former President Donald Trump, have told voters that they’ll be tough on China, the world’s second-largest economy after the United States and an emerging geopolitical rival.

The Monday divestment order was made in coordination with the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States — a little-known but powerful government committee tasked with investigating corporate deals for national security concerns that holds power to force companies to change ownership structures or divest completely from the U.S.

A 2018 law granted CFIUS the authority to review real estate transactions near sensitive sites across the U.S., including F.E. Warren Air Force Base.

MineOne purchased the land that is within one mile of the Air Force base in Cheyenne in 2022, and according to CFIUS, the purchase was not reported to the committee as required until after the panel received a public tip.

The order was vague about the specific national security concerns, with the Treasury Department saying only that there were issues with “specialized and foreign-sourced equipment potentially capable of facilitating surveillance and espionage activities” that “presented a significant national security risk.”

A representative from the firm did not respond to an Associated Press request for comment.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who serves as the chairperson of CFIUS, said the role of the committee is “to ensure that foreign investment does not undermine our national security, particularly as it relates to transactions that present risk to sensitive U.S. military installations as well as those involving specialized equipment and technologies.”

The committee is made up of members from the State, Justice, Energy and Commerce Departments among others, which investigates national security risks from foreign investments in American firms.

CFIUS directed the sale of the property within 120 days, and that within 90 days the company remove all structures and equipment on the site.

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