China Drawn Into Tennessee Mine Fight

The following ad, paid for by the Tennessee Conservative Union (TCU), began airing in the lead-up to state hearings for a bill banning mountaintop coal-mining:

A similar bill had been promoted by the union for the past five years, and was defeated each time. When Guizhou Guochuang Energy Holding Ltd. said it was raising funds to invest in a Tennessean mining company last May, the union found new ammunition to use in its battle against mountaintop mining. The Wall Street Journal Reports:

The Tennessee group, founded in 1977, has long opposed surface mining because it says the practice affects the property rights of hunters and fisherman, and can hurt the state’s tourism industry by damaging mountain scenery that draw in tourists, according to chairman Lloyd Daugherty. This is the first time the group—which supports limited government and has opposed a push for a state income tax—has raised the issue of foreign investment.

“It’s not right for the red Chinese to come in and take part of our heritage,” Mr. Daugherty said.

A bill, which would prohibit surface-mining operations from disturbing the ridge line at elevations of 2,000 feet or more, is scheduled for a vote by state lawmakers Wednesday. Similar efforts have failed in the past, but the new bill’s sponsor, Democratic state Rep. Gloria Johnson, said the ads and Chinese investment will have an impact.

“I don’t think most Tennesseeans are going to like the idea that we’re going to give our mountains over to a Chinese company,” she said.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press has more from the TCU spokesman, further displaying the use of red-scare tactics to promote the union’s cause:

TCU Chairman Lloyd Daugherty said, “Every Tennessean, regardless of political affiliation, should be appalled by the idea of allowing the red Chinese to destroy the very mountains crossed by Daniel Boone.”

While Tennessee is “a proud red [Republican] state … the Tennessee Conservative Union is not willing to go that red,” Daugherty said.

[…]Daugherty said TCU’s position is different from what he calls “radical environmentalists” because the group does support coal mining — just not “blowing the tops off mountains.”

TCU’s position drew applause from Appalachian Voices, an environmental group, but environmentalists are playing down “save Tennessee mountains from communist China” issue.

“It doesn’t matter if somebody is from Beijing or Bristol, we don’t think they should be blowing up mountains,” Appalachian Voices said in a posting on its website. reports that, despite the political ad, the bill was killed yesterday after an “impassioned exchange in a House committee.”

For another case of anti-Chinese sentiment being used in American political advertisement, see “‘Racist’ Superbowl Political Ad Under Fire,” via CDT. For more coverage of U.S.-bound Chinese FDI and politics, see “Chinese FDI in the U.S.: Separating Politics from Reality,” a Caixin podcast.

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