The Biden administration is allowing Chinese electric vehicle battery company Gotion to move forward with construction of a facility in Michigan after a months-long national security review.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) — an interagency taskforce overseen by the Department of the Treasury and tasked with reviewing certain foreign investments that may pose a national security threat — determined Tuesday that Gotion’s proposed facility was not a covered real estate transaction or purchase under the Defense Production Act.
“We voluntarily submitted all the needed documents to the U.S. Department of Treasury Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. to be transparent and accountable and received the response that it is not a covered transaction,” Chuck Thelen, Gotion’s vice president of North American operations, said in a statement.
Gotion, whose parent company Gotion High-Tech is based in Hefei City, China, said following the results of the CFIUS review that it would “continue to move forward with due diligence” on its billion-dollar project in Mecosta County, Michigan. Earlier this year, Gotion voluntarily paused its development plans and requested the federal review amid intense scrutiny about its ties to China.
Lawmakers, local residents and national security experts have for months raised concerns about Gotion’s Chinese ownership and ties to the Chinese Communist Party. The corporate bylaws of Gotion High-Tech requires the company to “carry out Party activities in accordance with the Constitution of the Communist Party of China.
“While it is welcome that Gotion recently requested a federal review on its own, the subsidiary of a parent company that pledges allegiance to the CCP should not pass a CFIUS review to build a facility in Michigan,” Rep. John Moolenaar, R-Mich., who represents the district where the plant would be constructed, said in April.
In October, Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced that Gotion would invest $2.4 billion to construct two 550,000 square-foot production plants along with other supporting facilities spanning 260 acres in northern Michigan. She applauded the proposal, saying it would shore up Michigan’s status as the “global hub of mobility and electrification.”
And in a 10-9 vote in April, the Michigan state Senate Appropriations Committee gave the final stamp of approval for granting Gotion $175 million in direct taxpayer funding to help build the facility.
“I’m angry. I’m angry that this vote was slipped into the agenda today with as little information as possible so that people like me wouldn’t know it was happening,” Marjorie Steele, a local resident, said during the committee hearing. “I’m angry that you, our elected officials, have ignored my community’s pleas to table this vote until some small semblance of due diligence can be performed.”
“I can promise you that we will not stop at the local level,” she added. “We are tired of being abused and we are not alone. This is not just a Mecosta County issue. Townships and counties across the state are uniting, sharing resources, manpower and grassroots activism. Your votes today, senators, are lines drawn in the sand.”
The Treasury Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.