A California-based energy company the Biden administration greenlit for a Michigan electric vehicle battery plant project has considerable ties to the Chinese Communist Party — a revelation national security experts and Republicans warn is deeply alarming.
Gotion Inc. plans to invest $2.4 billion in two EV battery plants in Big Rapids, Michigan with the support of Biden’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI), according to multiple reports and government press releases. However, the project has come under heightened scrutiny over concerns Gotion is likely a CCP influence operation due to Gotion High-Tech Power Energy, its parent company and controlling owner, being headquartered in Hefei City, China, a Foreign Agents Registration Act filing shows.
“National Security is a shared burden,” Erin Walsh, who under former President Donald Trump served in the National Security Council, as well as Commerce and State Departments, told the Washington Examiner. “The dichotomy between interests of the Biden administration and Governor Whitmer versus the protection of the state and our national security is stark. Their unbridled ambition for a green energy transition is not at all grounded in U.S. energy security.”
Biden and Whitmer’s embrace of Gotion Inc. comes as the GOP grows increasingly frustrated with how Democrats have prioritized China-linked green energy initiatives over fossil fuels in order to purportedly fight climate change. The California company has sought to alleviate any criticism of its U.S. operations, with Gotion’s North American manufacturing vice president Chuck Thelen recently telling Politico, “Rumors that you’ve heard about us bringing communism to North America are just flat-out fear-mongering and really have nothing based in reality.”
But Gotion High-Tech’s 2022 Chinese-language ESG report shows it formed a CCP branch in 2010 and, in 2014, a CCP committee, the Daily Caller reported. That same Gotion High-Tech document also described how the Hefei-based firm employs 923 CCP members, including Gotion High-Tech CEO Li Zhen, who is said to be party secretary for the company’s committee, according to the outlet.
Meanwhile, Gotion High-Tech’s “Articles of Association” declare: “The Company shall set up a Party organization and carry out Party activities in accordance with the Constitution of the Communist Party of China. The Company shall ensure necessary conditions for carrying out Party activities. The secretary of the Party committee shall be the chairman.”
Whitmer has “chosen the interests of the CCP and not the people of Michigan,” according to Walsh, now senior research fellow for international studies at the Heritage Foundation’s Asia Studies Center.
One of the proposed Gotion battery plants in Michigan will reportedly be located within 100 miles of Camp Grayling, the largest National Guard training facility in the United States, and 60 miles from military armories. At the camp, Michigan’s National Guard on an annual basis notably trains a portion of the military in Taiwan, the Wall Street Journal reported.
It’s not merely the fact that Gotion’s U.S. outfit has ties to China that is resulting in scrutiny over its EV initiative, which Whitmer dubbed “the biggest ever economic development project in Northern Michigan.” The state’s Appropriations Committee voted 10 to 9 in April to authorize the company to receive $175 million in taxpayer dollars, which came after a public hearing that saw locals taking aim at Democrats for, in the words of Big Rapids resident Marjorie Steele, casting aside “community’s pleas to table this vote until some small semblance of due diligence can be performed.”
Aside from having hundreds of CCP party employees, China’s Gotion High-Tech took its staff on field trips in July and August 2021 to memorials for communist revolutionaries in the country’s Anhui province, according to footage on the company’s website unearthed by the Daily Caller. Employees on the first day of the July trip donned matching Red Army uniforms, while on the next day visited a hall and pledged the CCP’s oath, footage shows.
For Michael Sobolik, senior Indo-Pacific studies fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council think tank, Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act has made the U.S. dependent on China. The $740 billion tax, climate, and healthcare spending package was signed into law by the president in 2022 and paved the way for Gotion to qualify for millions of dollars in tax credits.
“In reality, Chinese companies have exploited the IRA and are setting up shop inside America with taxpayer subsidies,” he told the Washington Examiner. “It’s dangerous. America should be reducing our exposure to CCP companies and insulating our supply chains, not making them more exposed to the predations of our primary adversary.”
Republicans in Congress have sought to stop the IRA from boosting foreign entities since it passed. In March, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) put forth legislation, which has not been voted on, that would restrict subsidies under the law to Chinese battery companies. It is estimated that 76% of the world’s electric battery production comes from CCP-controlled or backed manufacturers, Rubio noted upon introducing the measure.
This week, Whitmer called for a “100% clean energy standard,” to purportedly “protect our air and water for future generations while creating jobs, lowering costs, and enhancing reliability, we need to expand domestic energy production.” Part of the governor’s wishlist included a sweeping mandate for energy in the state to be produced from green sources, including solar and wind.
“There’s a lot of great American companies that would have loved the opportunity, the money, and would have brought jobs to our country, while supporting our way of life,” Matthew Seely, head of the Michigan Conservative Coalition and an ex-2022 Republican congressional candidate, told the Washington Examiner. “Now, we’ve got a company directly tied to the CCP coming into our state.”