A screenshot from the China City of America site, which has since been taken down and replaced with a press statement.
A proposed China-themed development project to be constructed in the Catskills has come under fire from a range of critics in recent weeks, and its CEO is fighting back with a new press release.
Named the “China City of America”, the proposed project in the rural Sullivan County, NY aims to hold commercial, residential, business, education, amusement and entertainment components when it’s done, including a college, casino, “ethnic pavilion”, and a mall modeled after the Forbidden City. The main purpose of the project is to attract wealthy Chinese investors by complying with requirements of the U.S. EB-5 visa program, which allows foreign nationals to receive a green card if they invest US$500,000 in a rural “Regional Center” and create 10 jobs for U.S. citizens.
As news of the ambitious project spread, it has come under criticism for numerous reasons in the past few weeks, including claims that its financial details are questionable, it may not comply with EB-5 job creation requirements, and it could be harmful to the environment.
With a recent press release published on both a newly created Facebook page and the project's website, replacing its old series of Sim City-esque renderings set to music, the organizers of the China City have taken aim at these various criticisms, citing CEO Sherry Li as well as several lawyers associated with the project and local area representatives.
“We have made great progress in advancing our original concept to the actual planning and execution stage,” said Li in the press release. The statement shows that the “initial stage” of the massive project has been scaled back, and will only include the “education center and its related use components” covering an area of 575 acres.
The release takes aim at researcher David North of the conservative U.S. think tank Center for Immigration Studies, who published a lengthy article criticizing various aspects of the project. The project’s immigration attorney states that North’s article contains “inflammatory, derogatory and erroneous slander,” and added that the Center is “spreading xenophobia that smacks of classic McCarthy era behavior.” The release also cites the Anti-Defamation League, stating that the Center has “made a number of racist statements” throughout its history.
Li uses strong language to counter environmental concerns, which she states are attributed to “a local extremist environmental group,” and states that Falun Gong, which believes the project will be a “stalking horse” for the Chinese government, has “no credibility.”
Regarding the legitimacy of the project, Li states, “We have a top professional team of planners, engineers, architects, construction managers as well as comprehensive insurance experts.” The project’s immigration attorney, Larry Behar of the Behar Law Group, argues that it will be fully compliant with the EB-5 program, stating, “CCOA has complied with USCIS regulations and timely responded to two USCIS RFE (Request for Evidence) of the regional center designation originally filed on December 13th, 2011.”
According to the project’s local land use attorney, “The team of professionals have been working closely to ensure we are in full compliance with all federal, state and local laws and regulations regarding issues like wildlife and wetlands preservation, sewer and water usage, wastewater treatment, archeological, hydrogeological and traffic impacts.”