‘We Refuse To Be Bullied’: Rural Officials Throw Wrench In China-Tied Company’s Plans To Build Battery Plant 

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Newly-elected local officials in Michigan are taking steps to hinder the construction of a battery plant owned by a Chinese Communist Party (CCP)-linked company in their community, according to The Detroit News.

Officials in Green Charter Township, Michigan, have rescinded an approval for a water line that Gotion Inc. — a subsidiary of China-based Gotion High-Tech — needs for its planned electric vehicle (EV) battery components plant near Big Rapids in north central Michigan, according to The Detroit News. Gotion Inc. has sued the township in federal court over the withdrawn approval for the water line, potentially foreshadowing more friction between the company and key town officials, most of whom were voted into office late in 2023 to replace predecessors who backed Gotion Inc.’s  plans to set up shop in their community.

“As township supervisor, my number one concern is protecting the interests of the people of Green Charter Township, and we will vigorously defend our township’s position in the matter,” Green Township Supervisor Jason Kruse, who was one of the officials voted into office in November 2023, said, according to The Detroit News. “We might be a small community, but we refuse to be bullied.” (RELATED: Dem Gov’s Office Suggests Scrutiny Of Deal With CCP-Linked Company Is Ginned Up ‘Xenophobia’)

Gotion Inc. filed suit in the U.S. District Court’s Western District on Friday, seeking for the court to require the township to readopt the statute allowing for the water line’s extension, according to The Detroit News. The company also wants to preemptively block the township from suing Mecosta County after the township requested that the county suspend its reviews of particular permits and plans Gotion Inc. needs to have approved in order to proceed with its plans while the township works on a new zoning ordinance.

In November 2023, local voters largely rejected officials who had backed Gotion Inc.’s plans, ousting five of the seven members of the Green Charter Township board while the other two members resigned before voters went to the polls. The township’s clerk, the township’s treasurer and two other trustees were also ousted, according to local outlet WZZM 13.

Prior to their removal, many of these officials agreed to a development deal with the company whereby the township is required to “[obtain] or [cause] to obtain any licenses, permits, or other governmental authorizations necessary to advance the project and conduct business to support the project,” according to The Detroit News. Gotion Inc. is effectively alleging that the rescission of the resolution enabling the water line extension constitutes a breach of contract.

Gotion Inc. is poised to benefit from state subsidies worth $175 million pursuant to its deal to set up shop in the county, as well as tax breaks worth approximately $540 million, according to The Detroit News. The company also has plans to build a subsidized facility in Manteno, Illinois.

“It’s unfortunate that Gotion has had to resort to litigation to get the township to comply with their obligations under the agreement,” Chuck Thelen, the vice president of North American manufacturing for Gotion Inc., said of the situation, according to The Detroit News. “We’re unable to comment further since this is now an ongoing legal matter.” (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: GOP Lawmaker Urges Biden Admin To Investigate CCP-Tied Firm Building Near Sensitive US Military Sites)

The company has drawn the attention of the House Select Committee on the CCP and prompted legislation to be introduced on Capitol Hill. Gotion Inc.’s plans have become an animating issue in the township’s local politics, with many locals expressing their discontent with the company’s presence because of its ties to China and the CCP by way of Gotion High-Tech, which the Daily Caller News Foundation has covered extensively across several investigations.

Gotion High-Tech employed 923 active members of the Chinese Communist Party as of 2022, including CEO Li Zhen, and CCP officials also set up a talent recruitment “work station” at Gotion Inc.’s California headquarters in 2017. “Work stations” are a tactic that CCP officials use to attract Western talent to work in China.

In August 2023, Thelen said that the CCP has no presence in the North American branch of the company, according to Politico. Gotion Inc. is “wholly owned and controlled” by Gotion High-Tech, according to a 2023 Foreign Agents Registration Act filing.

Gotion High-Tech operates a joint venture in China that has engaged in contracts with a U.S.-sanctioned “paramilitary organization,” and the company also created a joint venture with a “Communist Chinese Military Company Subsidiary” in 2016. Unearthed video footage capturing Gotion High-Tech field trips shows employees dressed as Red Army soldiers and pledging to “fight for communism to the end of my life.”

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

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