A proposal to create a real estate development and theme park—aimed at Chinese investors—in upstate New York has been public news since May. But now Fox News and the NY Post wants all of us to be freaked out about the "mysterious" (dare we say, inscrutable?) project because maybe it's just a ploy for visas.
In May, the Sullivan County Democrat reported that the $6 billion "China City in America" project for the town of Thompson would have "A thousand homes. Fifty-six 'ethnic villages.' Two hundred fifty hotel rooms. Nearly 5 million square feet of commercial space. And a year-round amusement park." How would China City, headed by CEO Sherry Li, get funded? By attracting Chinese investors who would plunk down $500,000 in exchange for visas as part of the EB-5 immigrant investor program.
According to Fox News, now "U.S. immigration officials are considering a proposal from Chinese investors to create a multibillion-dollar development in New York’s Catskills called 'China City' -- raising concerns among critics about the potential cost to U.S. taxpayers and, according to one analyst, the possibility it could be a 'stalking horse' for the Beijing government. A spokesman from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services told FoxNews.com that the proposal for Thompson, N.Y., has not been approved but is under consideration."
Fox News also cites a report from the Center of Immigration Studies, which says China City's "project budget [is] bordering on the bizarre" and raises the "stalking horse" fear—basically, a branch of the Falun Gong, an enemy of the Chinese government, "raised objections with USCIS about the proposed project as a vehicle for expanding the influence of the Beijing government within the United States. It has suggested that at least some of the money funneled through EB-5 investments in all likelihood originally would be from the Chinese government. Falun Gong sees this prospect as a threat to both the security of the United States and to that of its own organization."
However, Li told a town meeting that the project would attract Chinese investors to buy homes and raise their children here for an American education (shouldn't they just move to Shanghai?). Further, she recently explained that there would be a four-year college on the property as well.
Li has also said, "We can kind of view it as a Chinese concept of Disney — so it’s going to have lot of attractions for families." Except instead of Tomorrowland and Main Street U.S.A., there would be areas about the Chinese zodiac and various dynasties ("Each dynasty will have its building and will have rides go with it"). And, of course, gift shops and cartoon characters! Here's Li explaining the concept:
Still, other activists are worried about the environment, and a NYC attorney told the Post, "It sounds like an EB-5 scam. The financials don’t really support the $6 billion project." Nevertheless, birth tourism is a real thing!