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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks alongside former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley during the NBC News Republican Presidential Primary Debate at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County on November 8 in Miami.  Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis criticized former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley for recruiting a Chinese fiberglass company to come to her state during her term.

“She welcomed them into South Carolina, gave them land near a military base, wrote the Chinese ambassador a love letter, saying what a great friend they were. That was like their number one way to do economic development,” DeSantis claimed.

“In Florida, I banned China from buying land in the state,” DeSantis claimed. “We kicked the Confucius institutes out of our universities. We’ve recognized the threat and we’ve acted swiftly and decisively.”

Haley, not given an opportunity to immediately respond, later attacked DeSantis’ own record through his state’s economic development agency.

“Yes, I brought a fiberglass company 10 years ago to South Carolina, but Ron, you are the chair of your Economic Development Agency that as of last week, said Florida is the ideal place for Chinese businesses,” she claimed.

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy said he agrees with DeSantis’ attacks on Haley for her previous welcoming of Chinese-based businesses into the US as governor and in her previous role as ambassador to the UN – but went on to criticize DeSantis for his ties to a donor who lobbied on behalf of Chinese investment in the US.

Ramaswamy said DeSantis was “correct” to point out Haley’s previous support Chinese investment, but appeared to refer to reports that DeSantis donor Ken Griffin, CEO of the hedge fund Citadel, lobbied on behalf of China to amend a bill that allowed Chinese nationals to purchase property near military bases in the US. DeSantis denied Ramaswamy’s assertions.

“You do have to recognize that Ron DeSantis was correct about acknowledging Nikki Haley’s tough talk when was ambassador to the UN, calling China ‘our great friend,’ bringing the CCP to South Carolina. When you left out, though, Ron, and be honest about it, there was a lobbying-based exemption in that bill that allowed Chinese nationals to buy land within a 20-mile radius of a military base lobbied for by one of your donors,” Ramaswamy said. “So I think we have to call a spade a spade. We need politicians who are independent of the forces that increase our dependence on China.”

“That’s not true,” DeSantis said in response.

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