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American ‘Tough-on-China’ Lawmakers Urge Top Auto Executives to End Reliance on China’s EV Battery Supply Chain

Published: June 20, 2023
Excavators and a truck are seen at work in the industrial area near Debrecen, 230 km east of Budapest, Hungary, on Feb. 4, 2023 to prepare the construction of a battery factory by Chinese battery giant CATL. (Image: ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP via Getty Images)

On June 20, a group of tough-on-China House lawmakers traveled to Detroit, Michigan to meet with top auto executives where they urged them to shift away from relying on China’s electric vehicle (EV) battery supply chain. 

Leading the bipartisan group is Republican House China Select Committee Chairman Mike Gallagher. He was joined by fellow Republican John Moolenaar and Democrats, Raja Krishnamoorthi and Haley Stevens. 

The group’s itinerary includes meetings with General Motors CEO Marry Barra, Ford CEO Jim Farley and Executive Chair Bill Ford. 

Top of mind for the lawmakers is why Ford decided to proceed with building a new EV battery plant in Michigan, after a similar deal was recently struck down by Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, based on “national security concerns.”

The plant intends on using CATL technology. CATL is a giant Chinese battery manufacturer that many say undercuts American auto suppliers due to Chinese Communist Party (CCP) subsidies. 

Youngkin says that the Michigan project is a “Trojan horse” which would allow the communist regime an opportunity to infiltrate the U.S. auto industry. 

According to the a committee aide said the entourage is also concerned about CATL qualifying for “production and vehicle tax credits,” made available by Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

While the IRA was intended, in part, to reduce reliance on Communist China’s supply chains, the aide said that the committee believes that CATL should be ineligible for IRA incentives. 

In a statement to Bloomberg on June 19, Ford said that the company “shares the Committee’s goals of strengthening American competitiveness and establishing EV supply chains in the U.S., and in our meeting tomorrow we plan to share how we’re doing just that,” adding that, “The wholly-owned EV battery plant we’re building in Michigan is only the latest example.”

It’s expected that another topic of discussion will be the use of Uyghur forced labor in American supply chains. 

The committee is citing a report by the Sheffield University that revealed more than 50 international automotive parts and car manufacturers, including Ford, GM and Tesla, sourced directly from “Xinjian-based companies.” 


Biden green-lights Michigan factory

The Michigan battery plant was green-lit earlier in June by the Biden administration following a months-long national security review.

It was ruled that the plant, which will use CATL technology and will be operated by Hefei City, China-based EV battery company Gotion, was not “a covered real estate transaction or purchase under the Defense Production Act,” Fox News reported.   

In a statement, Gotion’s vice president of North American Operations wrote that the company “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.” 

He added that following the review that Gotion would “continue to move forward with due diligence” on the billion-dollar project in Mecosta County, Michigan.

For months, lawmakers as well as local residents have been raising a red flag over Gotion’s ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

According to Gotion’s corporate bylaws the company is to “carry out party activities in accordance with the Constitution of the Communist Party of China.”

In April, Rep. Moolenaar, R-Mich, said that “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.”

In October, it was revealed that Gotion plans to invest upwards of $2.4 billion to construct two 550,000 square-foot production plants and other supporting facilities, sprawling over 260 acres of land in northern Michigan.

Michigan’s Democratic Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, praised the proposal, saying it would establish Michigan’s status as a “global hub of mobility and electrification.”