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Communist Plant? (Part I)

Shady ties spark clash over Michigan battery mill

[Part I of a two-part series on a proposed CCP-linked battery works in the Midwest.]

A fight is unfolding in the Wolverine State, where a plan to build an electric vehicle (EV) battery components plant is provoking fears of Communist subversion.

The strife is centered on Green Charter Township, a once-quiet corner of Mecosta County, some 60 miles north of Grand Rapids, where construction of a lithium battery manufacturing facility is slated to begin later this year.

Backers tout the $2.36 billion project as an investment in the future, saying it will generate 2,350 jobs, help renew the US automotive industry, cement Michigan as a clean-energy powerhouse, and fuel America's transition from hydrocarbons to renewables.

But opponents are painting the venture as a grave threat to national security, sounding an alarm over its affiliation with a principal enemy of the United States — the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Foes of the proposed factory were dealt a blow late last week, when a US District Court judge ordered Green Charter Township to comply with an agreement that community leaders struck with plant developers last year, prior to their ousting by voters in November. In spite of the ruling, opponents say, their fight is far from over.

From China with Love

The initiative is spearheaded by Silicon Valley firm Gotion, Inc., a self-described "energy solutions company" whose aim is "to innovate and create the next generation of battery technology."

Incorporated in Fremont, California in 2014, Gotion, Inc. is the US subsidiary of Chinese parent company Gotion High-Tech — also known as Guoxuan High-Tech.

Guoxuan High-Tech is headquartered in Hefei, capital of the inland Chinese province of Anhui, roughly 250 miles west of Shanghai. The firm has engaged in the research, development, production and sale of power lithium batteries since its founding in 1998.

Seeking to capitalize on the Biden Administration's perpetual "green energy" push, and backed by lawmakers in Lansing, in October 2022, Gotion unveiled its plan for a massive battery works featuring two 550,000 square-foot production plants capable of generating hundreds of thousands of tons of cathode and anode material each year.

Democrats were quick to claim credit for facilitating the plan, touting it as a project of, and for, the people.

"Gotion's $2.36 billion investment creating 2,350 good-paying jobs ... is the biggest ever economic development project in Northern Michigan and will shore up our status as the global hub of mobility and electrification," gushed Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in an October 5 press release. "Together, we will continue winning investments in this space and become the preeminent destination for electric vehicle and mobility companies. We will work with anyone and compete with everyone to keep bringing supply chains of batteries, chips, and electric vehicles home to Michigan."

Not long after the Gotion project was announced, however, unease began to mount among some Michiganders, as Guoxuan's ties to the CCP were exposed.

Communist to the Core

The Chinese Communist Party's imprint on Guoxuan is by no means ancillary; rather, it penetrates to the very heart of the organization.

In July 2022 — just three months before the Gotion project was announced — Guoxuan published its "Articles of Association," a compilation of principles and edicts similar to the bylaws that govern American corporations.

Under "General Provisions" for the regulation and management of the firm, Chapter I, Article 9 directs "The Company" (i.e., Guoxuan) to establish an internal CCP agency to facilitate Communist "activities":

"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."

Likewise, the document devotes an entire section to the organization of a "Party Committee" tasked with guaranteeing Guoxuan's alignment with, and promotion of, CCP precepts.

Chapter VI, Article 115 decrees: "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." Elaborating on these duties, Article 115 directs the Party Committee to:

"Ensure and supervise the implementation of the Party's guidelines, principles and policies in the Company, and implement major strategic decisions of the [Communist Party of China] Central Committee and the State Council as well as relevant important work arrangements of the Party organization at the higher level ....
Strengthen the construction of Party organization and Party members at the grass-roots level of the Company, give full play to the role of the Party branch as a fighting fortress and the vanguard and exemplary role of Party members, unite and lead cadres and staff to actively participate in the reform and development of the Company."

A Clear and Present Danger

Guoxuan's links to the CCP were quick to spark opposition to Gotion's proposal. Among the earliest critics of the initiative was GOP Rep. John Moolenaar of Michigan.

Representing the state's 2nd Congressional District — home to Green Charter Township, site of the proposed factory — Moolenaar serves as chairman of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, and is an authority on the threats the Party poses to the United States.

In a March 2023 piece for The Detroit News, Rep. Moolenaar outlined the extent of the CCP menace:

"There is no doubt that the CCP has engaged in activities that hurt the American people, including the spy balloon, stealing inventions from American companies, and jeopardizing the health of every person in the world with its coverup of COVID-19."

Moolenaar highlighted additional concerns, including "secret CCP police stations in the United States that are used for spying and surveillance, particularly focused on people who speak out against the CCP," as well as the fact that "the CCP is the largest supplier of the chemicals used by Mexican cartels to produce fentanyl, which then comes into Michigan communities and kills our loved ones."

Additionally, Rep. Moolenaar noted, the Michigan National Guard is training Taiwanese troops at its main facility, Camp Grayling, just 100 miles from the Gotion site. "What sense does it make," he asked, "for Michigan to allow a CCP-affiliated company to build a massive factory in our state, while at the same time the Michigan National Guard is helping Taiwan prepare for a possible attack by the CCP?"

"Michigan needs more manufacturing and more jobs," the congressman concluded, "but it is crucial to have the right partners investing in our state. The CCP should not be that partner, and no company, or its subsidiaries, that is committed to 'carrying out Party activities' should be building facilities in our state."

Ties That Bind

On September 20, 2023, Rep. Moolenaar and five Republican colleagues penned a joint letter to the US Department of the Treasury, demanding closer scrutiny of the Gotion project. Joining Moolenaar were Rep. Bill Huizenga of Michigan's 4th District, Rep. Lisa McClain of Michigan's 9th District, Rep. John James of Michigan's 10th District, Rep. Mike Bost of Illinois' 12th District, and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

In their letter, the six GOP lawmakers voiced alarm over "Guoxuan High-Tech's ... recent investments through its U.S. subsidiary, Gotion, Inc., in lithium battery manufacturing plants in Michigan and Illinois."

Guoxuan is a publicly-traded enterprise in China, they noted, and the Chinese Communist Party and its members "retain effective control of the company through multiple individual shareholders." Examples of the Party's grip on Guoxuan include:

"Li Zhen, the company's founder and Chairman, is a member of the Anhui Provincial Federation of Industry and Commerce, which is part of the CCP's United Front system and takes direction from the CCP.
His son, Li Chen, who is also Guoxuan's CEO, is a member of the Baohe District Chinese People's Political Consultative Committee, which is an advisory body of the CCP.
Li Zhen, Li Chen, and the holding company they collectively own 80 percent of, Nanjing Guoxuan Holding Group, own 17 percent of Guoxuan High-Tech's shares.
Of Guoxuan's six remaining top shareholders, only Citibank is not wholly owned by the [People's Republic of China], the government of the Hong Kong Special Autonomous Region, or the [People's Republic of China's] numerous state-owned funds and banks."

"It is clear," the lawmakers observed, "that the CCP deliberately obscures its control and influence over Guoxuan, and thus Gotion, through this complex ownership structure."

Guoxuan's investments, via Gotion, in US operations "effectively hand substantive decision-making regarding the management, operation, manufacture and supply of a product the Biden Administration classifies as critical infrastructure to the People's Republic of China (PRC)," they continued, adding:

"This is concerning, no less because the Biden Administration itself has described the PRC in its 2022 National Security Strategy as the 'only competitor with both the intent to reshape the international order and, increasingly, the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to do it,' and that 'Beijing frequently uses its economic power to coerce countries.' The CCP's control over Guoxuan High-Tech is no exception to the Party's strategy to exert its influence in the United States."

Noting that "President Biden has identified electric vehicles and the lithium batteries that power them as critical parts of America's transportation infrastructure," the six affirmed that "It is not in the interest of the United States to allow the CCP to control facilities estimated to produce thousands of those batteries, much less to provide it with hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer funded subsidies to do so."

"It is clear" that Treasury Department officials "must conduct a closer review of Guoxuan High-Tech's ownership of Gotion, Inc.," the lawmakers stressed. "Failing to do so would send a signal to Beijing, and its proxies, that they can continue to use non-traditional means to harm U.S. national security with impunity."

"In the interest of U.S. national security," they concluded, "we respectfully request you conduct an immediate ... review, and if necessary, order the divestment of Gotion, Inc. by Guoxuan High-Tech and its CCP owners."

Citizens vs. Special Interests

In spite of ongoing concerns over its Communist ties, the project maintains powerful political support in Washington and in Lansing, where Democrats control the offices of governor, attorney general, secretary of state, and both houses of the Michigan legislature.

Lurching ever-leftward ideologically, the solidly-blue state government has balked at concerns about CCP encroachment, and earmarked hundreds of millions of dollars in incentives for the facility.

Meanwhile, at the local level, grassroots opposition to the project has been growing for more than a year. Regardless of their setback last week in court, locals are vowing to push on in their fight against the Gotion Goliath, to preserve Mecosta County from Communist infiltration under the guise of "green" investment.

Writer, editor and producer Stephen Wynne has spent the past seven years covering, from a Catholic perspective, the latest developments in the Church, the nation and the world. Prior to his work in journalism, he spent eight years co-authoring “Repairing the Breach,” a book examining the war of worldviews between Christianity and Darwinism. A Show-Me State native, he holds a BA in Creative Writing from Pepperdine University and an Executive MBA from the Bloch School of Business at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

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Wow. We are already occupied. I've been hearing reports of thousands of Chinese crossing our southern border daily. When one of them was asked by a reporter, "What are you doing here?", he replied, "You'll find out soon." I've also heard reports of mid-level military personnel finding people who claim to be with the electric company taking photos of their homes and children. There will be bloodshed here on American soil soon, I believe. Probably right before the November elections.

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