China City - A perfect storm EB-5 proposal in upstate New York

Article author: 
David North
Article publisher: 
Center for Immigration Studies
Article date: 
16 December 2013
Article category: 
Our American Future
Article Body: 

The latest EB-5 investor visa controversy is based on the idea of building an all-Chinese residential and commercial development, China City of America (CCOA), about a 90-minute drive northwest of New York City at the southern edge of the Catskill Mountains.

It would be largely financed by funds from immigrant investors, each of whom, in turn, would get a set of green cards for their half-million-dollar checks. It would be on Yankee Lake, in Sullivan County, N.Y.

Unlike most EB-5 schemes, it has created a plethora of different kinds of controversies; in fact, as EB-5 projects go, it is the perfect storm. Everything that could possibly be wrong with such a project is wrong with this one, in spades.

In addition to the usual critical comments about the shaky financial prospects and dubious job-creation claims of the promoters, which so often accompany EB-5 proposals, this one also has generated adverse reactions because of:

  • A project budget bordering on the bizarre
  • Its planned ecological impact on a previously pristine rural area
  • The apparently ignored need to secure environmental permits from state authorities
  • The controversial land-development records of two of the proposal’s (non-Chinese) local allies, and
  • A charge from within the Chinese community that China City is a stalking horse for the Chinese communist government in Beijing.

Let’s look at each of these controversies in turn, but first at a sketch of what is proposed.

The China City Plan. The first version of the plan to emerge was a grandiose one. It would cover more than 2,000 acres (more than three square miles) spread over the towns of Mamakating and Thompson. It would include a Chinese theme park, a city full of China-related businesses, a high school, a college, and 1,000 residences. Every province in China would have an office there and the place would be replete with symbols of Chinese culture. For more on these plans see CCOA’s website, festooned with golden dragons and text in both Mandarin and English.1 When finished it would be a $6 billion project, its backers say...