In response to apparent national security concerns, U.S. legislators initiated a new rule that prohibits Defense Department procurement of electric batteries manufactured by six companies affiliated with the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese Communist Party.
Two of those companies are Gotion High-Tech and Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., Limited, both of which have received billions of taxpayer dollars and tax credits to build civilian battery plants in Big Rapids (Gotion) and Marshall (CATL).
This week, Congress included a rule in the National Defense Authorization Act, barring CATL, Gotion, Envision Energy, EVE Energy, BYD Lithium Battery Co., and Hithium Energy Storage Technology from U.S. military bases.
“This ban is a step in the right direction, and we applaud it,” according to a statement from former U.S. ambassadors Peter Hoekstra and Joseph Cella. “Given the aggressive adversarial nature of the PRC and the CCP, we urge lawmakers give this procurement ban immediate effect, extend it to the entire federal government, and investigate why CATL and Gotion can receive tax credits through the [Inflation Reduction Act], and push the Michigan and Illinois ‘deals’ to be subjected to the strictest of scrutiny by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.”
A previous Congressional inquiry last December resulted in a CATL battery farm being disconnected from the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base in Jacksonville, N.C., due to national security concerns.
“If our federal lawmakers see fit to protect the Pentagon’s supply chain, our national security by banning batteries manufactured by CATL, Gotion, and others deeply tied to the Chinese Communist Party, how can they still qualify to receive billions in taxpayer dollars from the Biden Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)?
Hoekstra and Cella have been outspoken opponents of PRC- and CCP-affiliated battery plants in the Midwest.
“Why are Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Governor J.B. Pritzker handing billions of taxpayer dollars and other subsidies to these PRC-based and CCP-tied manufacturers that President Biden, Congress, and the Pentagon have designated as imperiling America’s supply chain and national security?” they asked.
The Midwesterner attempted unsuccessfully to reach state Sen. Kristen McDonald Rivet, D-Bay City, multiple times to determine if she regretted her decision to support the proposed Gotion plant in Big Rapids, which would be located in relative proximity to the Grayling National Guard facility.
Rivet, who is currently running for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, was quoted in The Midland Daily News last April as continuing to support the construction of the Mecosta County manufacturing facility.
“There are many companies in this state that have ties to the Chinese government,” she said. “I was satisfied to vote yes for a couple of reasons. It creates jobs in a region that desperately needs them, it was thoroughly vetted from a security perspective by the federal government, it has done its environment due diligence, and I was inundated with calls from local residents asking me to vote yes.”
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At that time, Rivet, a member of the Michigan Senate Appropriations Committee responsible for approving a $175 million taxpayer incentive to Gotion, claimed there was “a huge amount of misinformation” spread about the battery company’s CCP and PRC ties. The newspaper quoted her as “saying she was ‘satisfied’ voting yes after thorough vetting of Gotion done by the federal government.”
Cella and Hoekstra disagree.
“It is perilous to subsidize a national security threat, and in this instance, it seems the left-hand does not know what the right hand is doing when it comes to providing for our common defense,” Hoekstra and Cella added.