House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy dinged a bipartisan effort to restrict China’s involvement in U.S. transit, helping a Chinese-backed company in his district, The Washington Post reported Wednesday, citing anonymous sources.
McCarthy managed to convince lawmakers to strip out language from a compromise spending bill that could have negatively affected a company in his district called BYD Motors. The bill’s language could have prevented the company from winning federal contracts, the report noted.
Republican Rep. Paul Mitchell of Michigan told WaPo that three of BYD’s five board members are connected to the Chinese government in some form, and that the company has also raked in $338 million in grants from China. Zachary Kahn, North America government relations director for BYD Motors, testified in front of Congress on May 16 and insisted that China does not control the company.
Mitchell was not convinced. “Whether this is technically state-owned or state-influenced, we have a problem here,” he told Kahn. “What’s been made abundantly clear by the Chinese government is they plan to assume a dominant position in the world by 2025 in all aspects, including economic. This is a threat to the security of this nation, so let’s not dress this up and say that BYD is not state-owned.”
Labor groups are railing against the move, which comes as the GOP has taken a more belligerent position on China.
“Kevin McCarthy has been championing a Chinese-owned company that is utilizing our tax dollars to gain a foothold in the American automotive industry,” Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a labor group critical of China’s involvement in the U.S. “This is a company that is clearly championed by the Chinese government, that has ambitions to dominate the global auto market, and so giving a foothold to it in the American transit market . . . seems to be a really, really risky proposition.”
BYD Motors, a division of the giant Chinese manufacturer BYD, makes electric often used by local governments. BYD Motors president Stella Li, is a campaign contributor to McCarthy, who railed against Google in 2018 for developing certain kinds of technology on behalf of China. (RELATED: Google CEO Sundar Pichai Doesn’t Rule Out New Search Engine In China)
House Democrats were similarly despondent. House Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat, acknowledged the company’s political savvy. “They’re smart, they unionized, they put these plants in very strategic places,” he said during the hearing. “They didn’t know Democrats were going to take over the House; they put the plant in Kevin McCarthy’s district. I think they would have put it in someone else’s district if they’d known Democrats were going to take over the House, but they aren’t dumb.”
McCarthy’s office dismissed WaPo’s concerns.
“I saw the Post made a point to put that (national security concerns) in the headline but I failed to see anywhere in the story where it noted electric buses posed a national security threat,” Matt Sparks, a McCarthy spokesman, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. He called it “a bit of revisionist history” to apply concerns raised at a congressional hearing to an appropriations bill crafted months earlier.
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