Sun, a former captain of the People's Liberation Army, acquired around seven percent of all land in Val Verde County in southern Texas between 2016 and 2018 when Frankens sold him the land. The Chinese businessman has since then planned to build a 46-turbine wind farm on one 15,000-acre ranch. (Related: Michigan residents successfully block a CCP-subsidiary corporation from purchasing 80 acres of farmland.)
James King, a local realtor and landowner in the county spoke about the business practices of Frankens after other locals were puzzled how Chinese nationals acquired land in their area.
"The Chinese weren't smart, but it's buyer beware. That's how Texas real estate is," said King. He added that Frankens was even purchasing properties from other landholders in the county to sell them at a high markup to GH America, a subsidiary of Sun's investment company the Guanghui Group. In at least one instance, Frankens even sold a parcel of land to Sun on the very same day that he acquired it.
King even stated that Frankens might have used the profits from his initial deals with GH America to purchase more land, effectively concealing his gains. A source familiar with the relationship between Frankens and Sun claimed that it was Frankens who proposed the idea of a wind farm in Val Verde County. Now, local landowners described Frankens as "treacherous."
Frankens quickly denied the allegations, telling Forbes that he only stumbled upon his first deal with GH America by chance. He sold the property through a broker and didn't even know who the buyer was until the contract came in. But Frankens refused to talk about the later deals and even defended Sun.
"In my dealings with [Sun], he has always done exactly what he said he would do and has shown himself to be a generous, hospitable man," said Frankens. "I have visited the property on several occasions and have never seen any indication of any nefarious or questionable activities. I consider him a friend."
Amid the controversy of land grabbing, Sun could be considered a national security risk by authorities due to his extensive connections to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Sun's extensive ties to the CCP have been documented in academic literature, notably in the book "Eurasian Crossings: A History of Xinjiang" by Georgetown University professor James Millward. The book details how Sun established a branch of the CCP within his own company during the 1990s. He also reportedly poached a party secretary from a state-owned firm to lead this branch.
These political connections not only facilitated Sun's acquisition of state-owned enterprises but have also triggered warnings about his potential threat to national security, including concerns voiced by Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
The involvement of the businessman with the CCP has generated unease in Val Verde County, where locals have reacted with increasing apprehension. Kyle Bass, a Val Verde County ranch owner, described Sun's deep ties to the CCP as "concerning" in light of his substantial land holdings in the area.
King shared the dismay of the community, saying: "It's, you know, 'how dare you bring this man into our neighborhood of really solid landowners who care about the land and where some families have spent six generations out here.'"
Critics argue that the project could provide Sun, and by extension China, access to the state electric grid. In response, Gov. Greg Abbott passed the Lone Star Infrastructure Act in 2021, prohibiting businesses from "hostile nations," including China, from accessing state infrastructure.
Learn more about Chinese activities in the United States at CommunistChina.news.
Watch this clip from "The Stew Peters Show" discussing how Chinese millionaires are also buying up land in Canada.