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Indiana Approves Ban On ‘Sister City’ Agreements With Foreign Adversaries

Indiana has enacted a law that prohibits cities in the state from entering “sister city” agreements with localities in adversarial foreign nations such as China, Russia, and Iran.

Such agreements are meant to boost cultural and economic ties between communities in different nations, but some U.S. officials have been raising concerns about malign influence. One Indiana city — Carmel — recently withdrew its membership with the United States Heartland China Association.

Last week, Governor Eric Holcomb (R-IN) signed a 112-page bill that includes a small provision that institutes the sister-city ban for counties, cities, towns, or townships. It hinges on U.S. Code to define foreign adversaries, of which there are currently six: China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, and Venezuela.

Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), who is running for Senate, celebrated the bill’s enactment, particularly as it relates to China and its Central United Front Work Department that he says manages sister city agreements through a proxy group.

“Sister city agreements are managed by the United Front, the Chinese Communist Party’s overseas influence arm which Xi Jinping called a ‘magic weapon’ for ‘national rejuvenation.’ The CCP pushes sister city agreements to get a foothold here, not to help Indiana,” Banks said in a statement on Monday.

“I’m glad that state lawmakers are focused on ridding Communist Party influence from our state, whether that means banning [agricultural] land purchases or cooperative agreements with our foremost adversary,” he added.

The Indiana Capital Chronicle said that the provision goes into effect on July 1, but notes there is some uncertainty about whether the ban is retroactive to affect existing agreements — and it does not apply to a state-level agreement with the Chinese province of Zhejiang.

There has been bipartisan support for action as state Rep. Mitch Gore, an Indianapolis-area Democrat, first proposed the provision and said that he believes sister-city agreements with foreign adversaries “deserve a little more scrutiny,” according to the report.

Critics included Jenna Bentley, the government affairs director at Accelerate Indiana Municipalities, who told the news outlet, “We have concerns when any kind of preemption prevails at the statehouse. Sister City relationships are often entered into for hyperlocal reasons.”

Daily Wire


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