GRAND FORKS — Grand Forks executives are scheduled to attend an FBI briefing next week regarding the expected arrival of a Fufeng Group corn milling facility. The move comes amid growing public concern over the company’s ties to China – although no evidence of wrongdoing has emerged over Fufeng’s plans in North Dakota.
City Administrator Todd Feland said city leaders are scheduled to meet with FBI agents for an “unclassified briefing” Wednesday at City Hall. Besides himself, Feland said, those invited include Mayor Brandon Bochenski, City Council Speaker Dana Sande, City Council member Bret Weber — who heads the city’s growth fund committee — and the city’s attorney. the city Dan Gaustad.
The meeting will be closed to the public, Feland said, noting that the city had approached the FBI for it.
“I think it’s more of a generalized briefing,” Feland said. “Foreign investments, foreign nationals, and just, you know, in general, what we should be aware of.”
Grand Forks’ Fufeng deal – expected to create hundreds of jobs – comes up against concerns over China
The meeting appears to be an attempt by city hall to calm security concerns that have been simmering for months on the project. In January, U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer, RN.D., told the Herald that the project “requires due diligence” because “China is not a reliable partner.” He stressed that missions near Grand Forks Air Force Base “must be protected” and expressed concern about “China’s infiltration into our food supply chains.”
Those concerns have echoed in City Hall in recent weeks as some locals worry about what it might mean to have a Chinese company – even if it works through a US subsidiary. – among them.
Anger over Fufeng group raises concerns and questions in Grand Forks
Fufeng COO Eric Chutorash could not be reached by the Herald for this report. But in a forum with the Herald in March, he dismissed the idea that the plant could be used for Chinese intelligence gathering.
“I know we won’t be asked to collect intelligence on Grand Forks Air Force Base,” Chutorash also said. “I can’t stress more than that. (But) me personally, I wouldn’t provide it. I don’t think the team that’s building there can provide it… Our human resource manager, our sales manager, our sales team and our engineer, they’re from here, they’re not transferees from China. The factory workers will be Americans. I can’t imagine anyone in the establishment would participate in this.