National Security

Leon Panetta Says China Could Use Dem-Backed Battery Factory To Spy On America

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Nick Pope Contributor
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Leon Panetta, the former director of the CIA, warned Tuesday that the Chinese Communist Party (CPP) may use a Democrat-backed green energy factory to spy on Americans.

Panetta said that the CCP could leverage Gotion Inc.’s planned facilities in Michigan to conduct espionage activities during a Tuesday hearing held by the House Select Committee on the CCP in Washington, D.C. Gotion is tied to the CCP via its China-based parent company, Gotion High-Tech, and is poised to build a major electric vehicle (EV) battery factory in Michigan with the help of robust taxpayer-funded subsidies pushed by Democrats.

“There is a Chinese company building an electric vehicle battery plant in my district; as part of the project, they plan to bring 20 to 50 Chinese nationals to Michigan. What do you feel are the odds of those nationals may engage in espionage for the CCP while they are in the United States?” Republican Rep. John Moolenaar of Michigan asked Panetta and Mike Pompeo, who led the CIA and served as the secretary of state for the Trump administration.

“I don’t think there’s any question that they’re going to take advantage of that situation. And I think we have to be very vigilant about what the hell is going on. That’s just the way they operate,” Panetta answered. “They’ll establish a manufacturing unit, they’ll establish whatever they can, and then they will use that for their own intelligence purposes. They will use that for their own economic purposes. They’ll use it to be able to gain the kind of advantages that they want that are counter, frankly, to the interests of the United States.” (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Video Shows Employees At Chinese Firm Behind US Battery Plant Builder Wearing Red Army Outfits, Pledging Life To CCP)

Pompeo agreed with Panetta’s assessment of the potential risks posed by the Gotion Inc. facilities in the testimony he provided during the hearing.

“I think it is worse than the fact that they will engage in espionage. I think that’s just top of the list,” Pompeo told the panel. “They will use this in ways that will leverage Chinese advantage. These plants are deeply dangerous to our national security and ought not be built.”

The company is set to receive $175 million in state subsidies for its Michigan projects, which will complement federal incentives. Gotion Inc. also plans to build a factory in Manteno, Illinois, with the help of state and federal subsidies. Democratic Govs. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and J.B. Pritzker of Illinois have both supported the company’s plans in their states.

Chuck Thelen, vice president of North American manufacturing for Gotion Inc., has claimed that the CCP plays no role at all in Gotion Inc. or its operations. However, numerous Daily Caller News Foundation investigations have called that claim into question.

Gotion Inc., however, is listed with the Department of Justice as a Chinese foreign principal. That filing states that Gotion Inc. is “owned and controlled” by Gotion High-Tech.

Gotion High-Tech participated in two CCP-backed programs known to national security experts and the U.S. government for acquiring dual-use technology and research, as reported by the DCNF. The firm also employed more than 900 CCP members as of 2022, including CEO Li Zhen, and established a joint venture with a State Department-identified “Communist Chinese Military Company Subsidiary” in 2016.

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