Gotion (file)

Republican Lawmakers Urge Biden Admin To Blacklist Major Chinese Battery Companies With US Interests

Gotion (file)
Gotion (file)

A group of Republican lawmakers is urging the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to effectively ban imports from two Chinese battery companies with business interests in the U.S.

Five Republicans — including Chairman of the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) John Moolenaar, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark Green and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio — wrote letters to DHS Under Secretary for Strategy, Policy, and Plans Robert Silvers requesting that the agency bar battery manufacturers CATL and Gotion High-Tech from shipping goods to the U.S. because of connections to forced labor in China’s Xinjiang region.

CATL is part of a licensing deal with Ford, which is building a factory in Michigan to produce batteries using CATL’s technology and know-how, and Gotion High-Tech’s subsidiary, Gotion Inc., has plans to build two major facilities in Michigan and Illinois with the help of federal and state subsidies.

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Being added to the UFLPA’s list of flagged entities would create major impediments for the companies’ hopes of establishing lucrative long-term operations in the U.S., according to The Wall Street Journal.

The letters assert that the companies’ supply chains are “deeply compromised” by Uyghur Muslim slave labor in Xinjiang, a region in Western China that is ground zero for the CCP’s ongoing genocide against the Uyghurs, according to the State Department. The lawmakers sent one letter to Silvers regarding each company. The two letters are very similar in that they identify some of the same problematic entities with which both companies are affiliated and urge Silver to list the firms as entities subject to the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) of 2021.

Both companies are emblematic of a “broader pattern” whereby Chinese firms look to access the American market while their suppliers obfuscate supply chain connections to entities known or believed to be perpetrating abuses in Xinjiang, the lawmakers wrote.

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In Gotion High-Tech’s case, the lawmakers specifically highlighted its connections to the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), a U.S.-blacklisted CCP paramilitary entity that has played a leading role in the abuses of the Uyghurs. Beyond XPCC, the lawmakers laid out a complex web of suppliers to demonstrate the level of exposure that Gotion High-Tech’s supply chain has to Uyghur forced labor.

“Gotion’s supply chains are deeply compromised by links to entities whose goods, wares, articles, or merchandise are mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part in [Xinjiang]. As a result, we request it be added to the UFLPA Entity List and its shipments prohibited from entry to the United States,” the legislators wrote. “We stand ready to provide the [Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force (FLETF)]with all necessary sourcing information related to the links and information provided above. If for whatever reason following a thorough examination of our evidence the FLETF does not choose to place Gotion on the UFLPA Entity List, we request a briefing from those determining officials immediately after that decision is made.”

The Daily Caller News Foundation has reported extensively on the efforts of Gotion’s U.S. subsidiary to establish operations in the U.S. and the subsidiary’s connections to the CCP via its parent company, including an October 2023 investigation demonstrating that Gotion High-Tech established business ties with the XPCC. The firm is partially owned by German auto giant Volkswagen.

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CATL, meanwhile, has its own upstream connections to the XPCC, according to the lawmakers. As they did in the Gotion letter, the lawmakers extensively cite primary sources and academic materials to make a detailed case that CATL’s supply chain is exposed to Uyghur forced labor such that the firm should be subject to UFLPA restrictions.

“These are not the first nor the only links between CATL, forced labor, and the genocide of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang that we have identified,” wrote the lawmakers. “The Select Committee exposed CATL’s previously held 23.6% ownership stake in Xinjiang Zhicun Lithium Industry Co., Ltd., a company identified as participating in state labor transfer programs involving forced labor conditions, until divesting it in February 2023. Within 48 hours, 61.2% of Xinjiang Zhicun was purchased by a limited partnership fund backed financially by CATL, one of its subsidiaries, and managed by Guan Chaoyu, a former CATL board member who oversaw battery production and supply chains.”

Claims that CATL is connected whatsoever to forced labor are “absolutely false,” a CATL spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal. CATL did not respond immediately to the DCNF’s request for comment for this story.

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In September 2023, Ford paused construction of the Michigan factory where it intends to use licensed CATL technology and expertise before resuming with scaled-down plans.

The factory “will be owned and run by Ford,” a spokesperson for Ford told the DCNF, adding that “whatever their relationships with us, all suppliers to Ford must comply with our supplier code of conduct.” The representative added that “the behaviors expected of suppliers that are spelled out in our code of conduct speak for themselves” when answering a follow-up question as to whether or not the letter’s assertions might suggest to Ford that CATL may not be in compliance with its expectations.

Gotion, Gotion High-Tech and Volkswagen did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

Daily Caller News Foundation

First published by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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