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Chinese Parent Of U.S. Battery Maker Has Business Ties With Blacklisted CCP Paramilitary Group

Gotion High-Tech, the Chinese parent company of Gotion Inc., which intends to build electric battery plants in Michigan and Illinois, operates a joint venture in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) that contracts with a U.S.-sanctioned entity, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation review of Chinese-language news reports and business filings.

In May 2017, Gotion High-Tech Co. Ltd. established a joint venture with Shanghai Electric Co. Ltd. called “Shanghai Electric Gotion New Energy Technology Co. Ltd.,” according to Chinese news website Sohu.com.

“On the evening of May 12, Gotion High-Tech Co., Ltd. announced that it would jointly invest funds with Shanghai Electric Group Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as ‘Shanghai Electric’) to establish Shanghai Electric Gotion New Energy Technology Co., Ltd.,” Sohu.com reported.

In July 2023, Shanghai Electric Gotion New Energy Technology’s social media account reported that the firm has been operating a battery energy storage system for a Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) power station located in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).

“In days past, Shanghai Electric Gotion won the bid for the 60-megawatt / 180-megawatt per hour battery energy storage system for XPCC 1st Division 10th Regiment and State Power Investment Corporation’s 400-megawatt photovoltaic power generation project,” Shanghai Electric Gotion’s social media account stated.

XPCC signed a strategic cooperation framework agreement in 2020 with the state-run State Power Investment Corporation to “jointly promote the development of new energy projects, develop smart energy ecosystem and electricity support industries, cultivate talent, jointly build expertise and cooperate extensively in various other fields,” according to Sohu.com.

“The 400-megawatt photovoltaic power station of XPCC 1st Division’s 10th Regiment and State Power Investment Corporation is complemented by the 60 megawatt / 180-megawatt per hour battery energy storage system project located in XPCC 1st Division’s city of Aral, Xinjiang,” Shanghai Electric Gotion’s social media post continued. “This project’s energy storage system uses Shanghai Electric Gotion’s most advanced, standardized, modular, large battery core, liquid-cooling collection box, which by means of excellent system integration programs, will ensure the smooth connection of the project to the grid.”

In July 2020, the Treasury Department sanctioned XPCC for its human rights abuses, according to a press release.

“The XPCC is a paramilitary organization in the XUAR that is subordinate to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP),” the Treasury Department’s 2020 press release stated.

“The entity and officials are being designated for their connection to serious human rights abuse against ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, which reportedly include mass arbitrary detention and severe physical abuse, among other serious abuses targeting Uyghurs, a Turkic Muslim population indigenous to Xinjiang, and other ethnic minorities in the region,” said the Treasury Department. As a result of the sanctions, federal regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within the U.S. that involve any property or interests in property of XPCC.

In June 2021, the Commerce Department added XPCC to the “Entity List” for “accepting or utilizing forced labor in the implementation of the People’s Republic of China’s campaign of repression against Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).”

In January 2021, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo determined that the PRC is committing genocide against Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang.

“After careful examination of the available facts, I have determined that since at least March 2017, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), under the direction and control of the CCP, has committed genocide against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang,” Pompeo said in a 2021 press statement.

In 2022, the State Department’s Country Report on Human Rights detailed the extent of the PRC’s ongoing genocide and other crimes against humanity.

“Genocide and crimes against humanity occurred during the year against predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang,” the State Department’s 2022 report reads. “These crimes were continuing and included: the arbitrary imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty of more than one million civilians; forced sterilization, coerced abortions and more restrictive application of the country’s birth control policies; rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence; torture of a large number of those arbitrarily detained; and persecution including forced labor and draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression and freedom of movement.”

In August, Fox News reported that Gotion Inc. — which is “wholly owned and controlled” by Gotion High-Tech, according to a Foreign Agents Registration Act filing — had received a greenlight from Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Biden administration to “invest $2.4 billion to construct two 550,000-square-foot production plants” for electric vehicle (EV) batteries in Big Rapids, Michigan.

On Sept. 8, an Illinois government press release announced that Gotion Inc. also intended to build a “state-of-the-art $2 billion” EV battery plant in Manteno, Illinois, “bolstered” by state incentives.

The DCNF recently reported that Gotion High-Tech employs 923 CCP members. Additionally, the DCNF found that Gotion High-Tech launched a joint venture company with a “Communist Chinese Military Company Subsidiary” in 2016.

In August, Politico reported that Chuck Thelen, the vice president of North American manufacturing at Gotion Inc., claimed that “the Chinese Communist Party has no presence in the North American company.”

“The rumors that you’ve heard about us bringing communism to North America are just flat-out fear-mongering and really have nothing based in reality,” Thelen said, according to Politico’s report.

On May 12, 2017, Gotion High-Tech’s CEO Li Zhen — whom the DCNF recently reported serves as the party secretary for the firm’s CCP committee — met in Shanghai with Shanghai Electric’s then-CEO and party secretaryZheng Jianhua, for Shanghai Electric Gotion New Energy Technology’s signing ceremony, according to Sohu.com.

During the meeting, Li and Zheng signed an agreement stating that the joint venture’s main products would be “special vehicle batteries, smart energy storage products, including home energy storage, distributed micro-grid energy storage and power grid-grade energy storage,” Sohu.com reported.

A 2022 Gotion High-Tech business filing states the firm holds 45.4% of Shanghai Electric Gotion’s shares while Shanghai Electric holds 47.4%. Two other firms — Shanghai Xuneng New Energy Science And Technology and Shanghai Haohao New Energy Science And Technology — both hold another 3.6% of Shanghai Electric Gotion’s shares apiece.

While Shanghai Electric Gotion’s battery energy storage system in Xinjiang may be the first instance of Gotion High-Tech cooperating with XPCC, Shanghai Electric has been working on various projects with XPCC since at least 2012, according to a report on the website of the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of China’s State Council.

“Shanghai Electric and XPCC’s 8th Agricultural Division signed a general contract for phase one of the Tianfu Power Plant 2×660-megawatt project,” the Chinese government’s report 2012 states.

Several years later, Shanghai Electric’s chairman, Zheng Jianhua, traveled to Xinjiang in 2018 to meet with the autonomous region’s party secretary, Zhang Chunlin, to discuss how Shanghai Electric could help XPCC develop energy storage products for Xinjiang, according to Shanghai Electric’s periodical.

“Zheng Jianhua said that Shanghai Electric would marshal the might of the entire corporation to develop Xinjiang’s energy storage products,” Shanghai Electric’s periodical reported.

More recently, a delegation from Shanghai Electric met with the commander of XPCC’s 13th Division on August 10, 2023, according to XPCC 13th Division’s social media account. During the meeting, Shanghai Electric’s senior development manager announced his firm’s plans to invest in and cooperate with XPCC 13th Division as well as Shanghai Electric’s intention to enter into discussions with enterprises related to XPCC, according to XPCC 13th Division’s social media account.

Washington Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, told the DCNF that “the CCP does not share American values and virtues — including freedom of speech, the rule of law and basic human rights.”

“Yet, the Biden Administration continues to use government mandates and green light EV tax credits to benefit CCP-linked companies, like Gotion and CATL,” McMorris Rodgers said. “We cannot continue to hand China the keys to our auto future, which threatens American jobs and our national security.”

Gotion High-Tech, Gotion Inc., Shanghai Electric and Shanghai Electric Gotion New Energy Technology did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

AUTHOR

PHILIP LENCZYCKI

Investigative reporter.

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