EXCLUSIVE: Parent Of US Battery Maker Participated In Communist Party Programs That Acquire Tech For China’s Military

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  • China-based Gotion High-Tech, the company behind Gotion, Inc., participated in two programs known to acquire technology and dual-use research for the benefit of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
  • Gotion, Inc. is poised to build electric vehicle (EV) battery component manufacturing plants in the American heartland in relatively close proximity to U.S. military installations with the help of subsidies paid for with state and federal tax dollars.
  • “The United States is engaged in a second Cold War, now with China, and the federal government and state governments should engage accordingly and provide for our common defense,” Joseph Cella, a former U.S. ambassador and co-founder of the Michigan-China Economic and Security Review Group, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

The Chinese parent company behind a U.S.-based battery firm has engaged in two Chinese Communist Party (CCP)-backed programs that are known to national security experts and the U.S. government for acquiring dual-use technology and research, according to materials reviewed by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Gotion High-Tech has participated in the 863 Program and Torch Program, two initiatives identified as projects designed to acquire advanced technology and research to support the People’s Liberation Army, according to a DCNF review of corporate materials. Gotion High-Tech owns the U.S.-based Gotion, Inc., which is building large manufacturing facilities in Illinois and Michigan with generous taxpayer subsidies.

“The United States is engaged in a second Cold War, now with China, and the federal government and state governments should engage accordingly and provide for our common defense,” Joseph Cella, a former U.S. ambassador and co-founder of the Michigan-China Economic and Security Review Group, told the DCNF. “The People’s Republic of China and the CCP are engaged in unrestricted warfare against the United States, and Program 863 and the Torch Program are weapons in their arsenal.”

Gotion High-Tech engaged in “three national ‘863’ major projects” that were completed in 2015, according to the corporate profile section of the company’s website and its 2022 Environment, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) report.

2018 – Gotion High-Tech (parent firm of Gotion Inc. who plans to build IL & MI battery plants) made a video showing #CCP members Xi Jinping & CEO Li Zhen + employees in military uniforms singing the nationalist song “Country” that Jackie Chan popularized.


— Philip Lenczycki 蔡岳 (@LenczyckiPhilip) September 18, 2023


One of the 863 Program projects the company undertook was the development of a “lithium ion battery full industrial chain,” which it started in 2013, according to the company’s corporate profile. However, specific details about the nature and aims of the other two 863 Program projects that the company carried out are sparse.

The 863 Program “focuses on both military and civilian science and technology” and aims “to accelerate the acquisition and development of science and technology in the [People’s Republic of China],” according to a report from the Select Committee of the United States House of Representatives. The program, launched in 1986, “provides funding and guidance for efforts to clandestinely acquire U.S. technology and sensitive economic information,” according to the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive.

The CCP spent approximately $800 million annually on the program between 2009 and 2013, according to a 2019 report prepared for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission by an independent research firm.

State-run media outlet Xinhua reported that the 863 Program was put under the auspices of the National Key Research and Development Program of China in 2016, but the 863 Program remained listed as an active and independent program on the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology’s website until at least 2018.

Gotion High-Tech also joined the Chinese government’s Torch Program in 2008, according to the company’s corporate profile website and Gotion High-Tech Chairman Li Zhen’s biography on the 2016 U.S.-China New Energy Economy Forum’s website.

One of the Torch Program’s key aims was to boost China’s advanced technological capabilities by creating “incubators and high technology zones” akin to Silicon Valley, according to a 2011 report prepared for the U.S.-Chinese Economic and Security Review Commission by CENTRA Technology, an American company that “specializes in aerospace engineering issues and serves a broad range of clients with critical defense, intelligence and security missions.”

The program is “basically the Chinese state’s attempt to direct funding into industries that they think will allow them to become the dominant power in the fourth industrial revolution,” with an external component focused on monitoring and undercutting Western innovations complementing the program’s internal aspects, Brandon Weichert, a geopolitical analyst and national security expert, told the DCNF.

“Whatever China can get commercially from the U.S., they can apply in a military context,” Weichert said, adding that Gotion High-Tech’s affiliation with the Torch Program could be of particular concern given the Pentagon’s plans to electrify its non-tactical vehicle fleet in the coming years.

Despite its involvement in these programs, the DCNF found no evidence Gotion High-Tech is or has been directly engaged in efforts to acquire technology for the Chinese military.

Beyond Gotion High-Tech’s affiliations with these two programs, CCP officials also established a talent recruitment “work station” at Gotion, Inc.’s Fremont, California, headquarters in 2017, a fact first reported by the DCNF in September 2023. “Work stations” are a tactic that CCP officials use to attract Western talent to work in the Chinese mainland.

Gotion, Inc.’s planned facilities in Manteno and near Big Rapids will benefit from hefty state and federal subsidy packages, with the Manteno plant alone poised to reap more than $7 billion in federal subsidies alone if it reaches its full productive capacity on schedule, according to Good Jobs First, a group that advocates for accountability and transparency in the use of public subsidies.

“There’s a pattern being repeated here. With Huawei, they couldn’t sell into the big American carriers, so they sold into small mom-and-pop companies around nuclear bases in rural parts of the country that have independent cell companies,” Jon Pelson, an adjunct fellow for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who has accumulated extensive expertise of China’s use of corporate espionage and leverage during a long career in the telecommunications industry, told the DCNF, referencing the efforts of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei’s efforts to penetrate the American market. “They were able to deploy wireless electronic equipment around some of our most sensitive military bases, and they were able to get federal government subsidies to pay for it.”

“Because of these latest revelations involving Gotion, we will be appealing to all relevant Congressional committees to investigate Gotion and its malign activities, particularly with state and local governments in the United States,” Cella told the DCNF.

Chuck Thelen, vice president of North American manufacturing for Gotion Inc., asserted that the CCP plays no role whatsoever in Gotion, Inc. or its operations, Politico reported.

Gotion Inc., however, is listed with the Department of Justice as a Chinese foreign principal. Gotion High-Tech employed 923 active CCP members as of 2022, and it also established a joint venture with a State Department-identified “Communist Chinese Military Company Subsidiary” in 2016.

Li, who is also a member of the CCP, was quoted in the official Illinois press release, along with Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, announcing the Manteno plant. Pritzker’s office has asserted that the concerns of locals and elected Republicansabout Gotion, Inc.’s ties to the CCP via Gotion High-Tech were ginned up and akin to “xenophobia.”

Voters in Green Charter Township, Michigan, ousted numerous local officials that had facilitated Gotion, Inc.’s efforts to set up shop in their community in November’s elections.

Neither Gotion, Inc. nor Gotion High-Tech responded to requests for comment.

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