Republican presidential candidate and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley is being accused of “misleading” the audience attending one of her town halls earlier this month over the sale of land in South Carolina to China while she was governor of the state.
The liberal Washington Post’s resident fact-checker, Glenn Kessler, awarded Haley “four Pinocchios” for “sidestepping” when one audience member said, “I saw something on the internet that said you gave China thousands of acres of land in South Carolina. Why would you do that?”
“Don’t believe what you read on the internet … We didn’t sell any land to the Chinese. But, yes, I recruited a fiberglass company,” Haley responded.
Kessler wrote that Haley, as South Carolina’s governor from 2011 to 2017, “recruited Chinese companies to her state,” and that “Chinese capital investment in South Carolina more than doubled from $308 million in 2011 to nearly $670 million in 2015.”
“There’s nothing wrong with politicians changing their positions in light of new facts. Haley has become a hawk on China, making her stance a key part of her campaign platform, and many politicians in both parties, including President Biden, have become alarmed by China’s behavior. But her response at the town hall was false and misleading,” he added.
Kessler went on to call her comments a “political sleight of hand,” and said she denied something she wasn’t asked.
“The fiberglass deal did not involve the sale of land — but that’s because the company received almost 200 acres of county-owned land free of charge if promised investments were made,” he wrote.
According to Kessler, Chinese companies received approximately 1,500 acres of land during Haley’s administration, “much of it through land sales.”
The fiberglass company in question — China Jushi — has deep connections to the Chinese Communist Party, Kessler wrote, and established a manufacturing plant in South Carolina in 2016 that Haley called “a huge win for our state.”
“Get excited! China Jushi is creating 400 new jobs and investing $300. million right here in Columbia!” Haley wrote on Facebook at the time.
Haley defended her deal with the company during the town hall, saying, “There is not a governor in this country or a state in this country that hasn’t worked to get Chinese business in their state somewhere. There’s not a household in this country that doesn’t have Chinese products in it. But there is a difference between focusing on something that’s going to hurt our national security and focusing on whether I brought a fiberglass company to South Carolina.”
Kessler went on to write that Haley’s phrasing showed she wanted to “get credit for wooing the company without taking accountability for the details,” and listed a number of other Chinese companies that purchased land in South Carolina from both local governments and individuals during her tenure as governor.
Fox News Digital has reached out to the Haley campaign for comment. Kessler wrote that a Haley campaign spokesperson declined to discuss the town hall comments on the record, but did send a statement with a similar defense as the one given during the event.
“With China-owned companies in all fifty states and Chinese products in nearly every American home, China’s influence is pervasive. China buying farmland near our military bases and stealing American technology is a clear and present security threat,” the statement read.
“Chinese investment in glass manufacturing in America is not the same, although dangers in the consumer goods sector are greater today than they were five or ten years ago. Nikki Haley has the clearest vision of the comprehensive nature of the Chinese threat to America and will do what it takes to keep Americans safe,” it added.
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