Ignoring warnings from both the FBI and the U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Center, Michigan leadership has swung the doors wide open to a Chinese battery plant. Democrat Governor Gretchen Whitmer, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), leading Republican and Democrat state legislators, county economic development corporations, and a small township board comprised of principally Republicans hope to complete a deal with Gotion Inc., a Chinese-controlled PRC-based lithium-ion battery manufacturer. The chosen site is in Green Township, just North of Big Rapids, Mi.
Despite national, statewide, and local objections, Green Township Supervisor Jim Chapman has given enthusiastic support to the CCP-connected battery plant.
During the Summer of 2022, FBI Director Christopher Wray and his MI5 British counterpart Ken McCallum raised the alarm about the national security threat China presents. Wray warned that the Chinese use business ventures to influence local and state governments, “The Chinese government poses an even more serious threat to Western businesses than even many sophisticated businesspeople realize.” He also said, “The Chinese Embassy warned U.S. companies that — if they want to keep doing business in China — they need to fight bills in our Congress that China doesn’t like.” Wray said every 12 hrs the FBI opens a new counterintelligence investigation on China.
U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Center echoed this concern in a statement saying, “Some of the goals of [Chinese government] influence operations in the United States are to expand support for [People’s Republic of China] interests among state and local leaders and to use these relationships to pressure Washington for policies friendlier to Beijing. Leaders at the U.S. state, local, tribal, and territorial levels risk being manipulated to support hidden [Chinese government] agendas.”
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In 2019 a CCP think-tank and a Chinese University did a demographic study on U.S. Governors to determine where Chinese companies could expand. Democrat Gretchen Whitmer was in her first term as Michigan governor at that time.
Gotion Inc. is a subsidiary of Gotion High-Tech Co. Ltd., a Chinese-based EV battery manufacturer. The company hopes to begin work this Summer on a 408-acre factory in Green Charter Township. The company initially planned to build on 115 acres in Big Rapids Township. However, the Big Rapids township’s board of trustees wisely voted to request a federal review of the company and whether it posed a national security threat. Perhaps anticipating the federal reaction would be less than positive, Gotion’s response was to postpone the project.
Although Chapman’s critics have flagged concern over Gotion’s CCP affiliation, he responded by calling their concerns Anti-China Propaganda:
“It is the folks that think that somehow this is Chinese communism, and some of it is environmental concerns. I think we’ve done a fairly good job of answering both, but many people don’t want to hear the answers.”
Perhaps Chapman has not read Gotion’s articles of association. They clearly lay out its connection to the Chinese Communist Party. Here is a portion of the articles:
Article 9 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 the necessary conditions for carrying out Party activities. The secretary of the Party committee shall be the chairman.
Chapter VI Party Committee
Article 114 The Company set up the Gotion High-tech Co., Ltd. Committee of the Communist Party of China (“Party Committee”). The Party Committee shall have one secretary and several other members. In principle, the chairman and secretary of the Party Committee shall be the same person. Qualified members of the Party Committee may be elected to be members of the Board of Directors, the supervisory committee, or the senior management through legal procedures, and qualified members of the Board of Directors, the supervisory committee, and the senior management may be elected to the Party Committee in accordance with relevant regulations and procedures. In addition, a Commission for Discipline Inspection shall be set up in accordance with regulations.
Article 115 The Party Committee of the Company shall perform its duties in accordance with the Constitution of the Communist Party of China and other Party regulations.
As if rolling out the “red” carpet for a communist-owned battery plant isn’t enough…there’s MORE:
The state of Michigan plans to give the Chinese Company $715 million in subsidies and tax breaks. In mid-March, the state House Appropriations Committee also voted along party lines 16D-12R to approve a $585 million package of subsidies to three battery manufacturing projects, which includes $175 million for the Gotion plant, which is being referred to as Project Elephant.
State Rep. Andrew Fink, R-Hillsdale, voted to block funding and is cited in the Hillsdale Collegian saying,
“We haven’t done any vetting to ensure this partnership is a wise choice for our state and our nation. Yet we’re jumping into bed with the CCP.”
Allegedly the plans to bring Gotion to the area have been in the works since 2021. Yet the plans have been kept quiet. Republican Supervisor Jim Chapman apparently forgot that he was hired to work for his local community, not against them. Chapman recently gave an interview to Bridge Mi and complained about the resistance he sees to the battery plant. Chapman describes those pushing for answers as close-minded and uninformed. It’s ironic, really; he intentionally kept people in the dark and is now calling them ignorant.
Watch this local resident speak out against the purchase of land in mid-Michigan by the Communist Party-owned battery plant:
"I'm all for business, but not communist business."
Residents fight back after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gave $715 million in taxpayer funds to 700-acre Chinese battery plant near Big Rapids, Michigan: pic.twitter.com/fMijwBU89C
— The Midwesterner (@Th_Midwesterner) March 15, 2023
The Muskegon River is the third largest watershed in the state, and the proposed building site is next to two of its tributaries. The site also borders four wells that provide the bulk of Big Rapids’ drinking water. Michigan had previously made national news over its Flint water crisis in 2014 and again in 2019 when high PFAS levels were found in Rockford, just north of Grand Rapids, Mi. Wolverine World Wide, the largest company in the community, poisoned the water. Almost 800 homes in 7 separate contamination zones found PFAS in their drinking water. Some have concentrations more than 10,000 times the amount considered to be safe.
Yet, the Green township board is sprinting ahead, believing that 2,500 new jobs paying an average salary of 45,000 each year is worth the environmental risk and the national security risk and is a great way to spend Michigan tax dollars.
Residents in Green Township and neighboring communities expect answers on how Gotion plans to handle importing, manufacturing and exporting their product. So far, they have been kept in the dark on how Gotion plans to handle hazardous materials that can have a devastating effect on the environment and human health. Or how they will responsibly manage water usage and protect the nearby tributaries to the Muskegon River. Some suggest the company will use 38,000 gallons of water per hour, six days a week. The Chinese track record on environmental care should concern Green Township locals and any neighboring community. Environmentalists consistently call out China as the worst polluter in the world.
A group of local volunteers offered to door-knock in order to assess the local sentiment of Green Township Residents. They reported that the majority of locals are firmly against the battery company moving into their town. They also are disheartened to learn how far advanced the plans are. Many have only recently learned about Gotion or were informed for the first time by the volunteers.
Residents have also shared concerns about the local township board. Allegedly, one of the trustees is selling land to Gotion in the upcoming deal and will benefit financially from the board voting to approve the plan. Chapman has tried to create a negative narrative about those questioning the battery plant and has even decided to move the upcoming April 5th public forum meeting online, citing concerns about disrupters attending the meeting. He said the decision was also due to the number of people coming from outside the local area. Perhaps Chapman needs to remember that the entire state is paying for the facility with tax dollars. That means every Michigander is a stakeholder and has a seat at the negotiating table. State officials would also do well to remember they are merely representatives and public servants of the people.
A rally has been organized for this evening at 5:30 on the Ferris State University campus at the Williams Auditorium at 5:30 PM ET for those wishing to take a stand against the Gotion factory.