Corporate documents obtained exclusively by The Midwesterner reveal the Chinese company the Michigan government is funding with $715 million taxpayer dollars is a key vehicle for the work of the Chinese Communist Party.
In July 2022, Gotion – the Chinese company purchasing 700 acres of property near Big Rapids – published a 94-page document titled, “Articles of Association,” essentially the equivalent of an American company’s bylaws. The document, found on Gotion’s website, lays out the company’s governance structure and allegiance to the “Constitution of the Communist Party of China.”
It also states, “The Company shall set up a Party organization and carry out Party activities in accordance with the Constitution of the Communist Party of China.”
Chapter VI of the Articles of Association (page 47) establishes a “Party Committee,” whose sole purpose is to ensure the company is adhering to Communist Party doctrine and furthering its objectives.
“The Party Committee of the Company shall perform its duties in accordance with the Constitution of the Communist Party of China and other Party regulations,” including, “Ensure and supervise the implementation of the Party’s guidelines, principles and policies in the Company, and implement major strategic decisions of the CPC (Communist Party of China) Central Committee and the State Council as well as relevant important work arrangements of the Party organization at the higher level”.
The Gotion corporate document also states that the company’s Party Committee shall “Strengthen the construction of Party organization and Party members at the grass-roots level of the Company” and oversee growing the “Communist Youth League and other mass work of the Company”.
It should not come as a surprise that Gotion is intertwined with the Chinese Communist Party. Aside from that as a requirement for doing business in China, the company’s founder, Li Zhen, is a former government employee and participant in the local communist government leadership.
According to Moomoo Technologies, he was “a researcher at the Economic Research Center of the Hefei Municipal Government,” and a “delegate to the 13th, 14th, and 15th sessions of the Hefei Municipal People's Congress.”
A 1986 Central Intelligence Agency briefing on “Provincial Organizations” made public in 2011 “identifies individuals who hold positions on the provincial level in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), legislatures, government, and selected mass organizations.” It contained the names of that era’s leaders of the Hefei Municipal People’s Congress.
A video posted in 2015 by Gotion shed more light on Li Zhen’s access and influence in the CCP.
The Gotion founder says, “I used to work in the government and also have experience in government agencies.”
(Edit.: Since the publication of this story, Gotion made the cited YouTube video "private," preventing readers to view it. This story has been updated to include a different citation.)
He recounted an interaction with communist dictator Xi Jinping while Li show ed off the company’s electric bus technology, “When President Xi visited Hefei last time, I introduced to him about the battery we provided for JAC’s electric vehicle”, and touted the growth in battery capacity.
Gotion, which is headquartered in Hefei City in the Anhui Province of China, has hired a Big Rapids-area man named Chuck Thelen to serve as its American representative for the foothold in the state. He performs media interviews and interacts with government officials.
The company’s corporate filing with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs calls Gotion a “foreign profit corporation” with an American beachhead established in Fremont, California.
The LARA filing undermines the notion that the company is an American “subsidiary” of the Chinese corporation as some have claimed. In other words, the mandates to promote and grow the communist party “at the grass-roots level of the Company” would likely be a requirement at the Big Rapids operation, which the company says could employ 2,350 people.
A Grand Rapids-based non-profit called The Right Place has been helping Thelen lobby for government approvals. That outfit published a “Gotion FAQ” in October 2022, but nowhere did it mention the communist Chinese control of the corporation, instead characterizing it as an “international company”. It did acknowledge the company would own the land.
"We have gotten great support from the director of EGLE and Gov. (Gretchen) Whitmer,” Thelen told the Big Rapids Pioneer earlier this month. “It has been a very collaborative process and supported greatly by the townships and the county.”
Last legislative session, Republican majorities opened the door to taxpayer funding of the Chinese company by allotting $715 million in cash and tax incentives. Democrats are now walking through it by appropriating the funds this session.
The Center Square reported last week:
The $175 million approved by the House Appropriations Committee includes a $125 million grant to the company and another $50 million for a Michigan-based economic development organization based in Grand Rapids. The state previously approved a 30-year tax break for Gotion valued at $540 million.
“These bombshell revelations completely expose the intent of Gotion and the fact that it is synonymous with the Chinese Communist Party,” 2022 Republican gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon told The Midwesterner. “The backdoor deals they’ve brokered with weak and corrupt Michigan politicians jeopardize our national security. Globalist Democrats are enamored with communist China, and are paying hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars for the CCP to set up a propaganda center right on American soil.”
Meanwhile, Green Charter Township – which has not wavered in its determination to bring the communist Chinese company to the area – will be holding a meeting April 5 where residents can comment on the project.