Examining the Debate Over Renewable Energy and Chinese Businesses

As reported in Politico, the Inflation Reduction Act has provided hundreds communities across the United States with the opportunity to develop renewable energy and the deployment of electric vehicles. In Green Charter Township, Michigan, a $2.36 billion battery component manufacturing facility is planned to be built by Gotion Inc., a U.S. subsidiary of Gotion High-tech Co., a Chinese company.

However, the proposed development has been met with controversy, with some residents and officials expressing concern over Chinese businesses expanding their reach and influence in the area. In this blog post, we’ll delve deeper into the debate over renewable energy and Chinese businesses in Green Charter Township.

Jim Chapman, the Republican supervisor for Green Charter Township, has reportedly received several death threats over the planned battery component manufacturing facility.

“I accepted the fact that I was going to have to be the lightning rod,” Chapman said in an interview Politico from his office. “Where you have people that are concerned about the Chinese Communist [Party] — they don’t know how to [fight] it in Lansing. They don’t know how to deal with it in Washington. They can deal with it locally,” he said.

The controversy partially originates from Gotion High-tech documents that include language to “carry out Party activities” in accordance with the Chinese Communist Party. This has raised red flags among some residents and officials who fear that such language might allow Chinese businesses to expand their reach and influence in the area, possibly undermining national security.

“All you gotta do is drive around the community and you’ll see how many people are against it,” said Lori Brock, 58, the owner of a local real estate agency and a horse farm across from the planned site.

“They’re pushing it down our throats,” Brock added. “Why are we giving our tax money to China when we’re almost at war with China? Why aren’t we giving our tax money to an American company?”

Local politician are taking advantage of the New Red Scare:

“Gotion North America is a subsidiary of a company that pledges allegiance to the CCP and I don’t think they should be receiving taxpayer money to build in Michigan,” said Republican Rep. John Moolenaar, who represents the district.

However, Chuck Thelen, the vice president of North American manufacturing at Gotion, has denied these allegations. He has insisted there is no such language in the U.S.-based company’s articles of incorporation and 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,” Chuck Thelen said.

Thelen has further stated that Gotion Inc. is registered in Delaware, and all shareholders and directors of the company are American citizens or legal permanent residents.

On the other hand, there are those in Green Charter Township who welcome the proposed development. According to them, the battery component manufacturing facility would bring back jobs to the local economy. Furthermore, the company’s focus on renewable energy aligns with the Inflation Reduction Act’s objective of accelerating the deployment of electric vehicles.

“We desperately need good-paying jobs,” said Carlleen Rose, 69, a local business owner.

Despite these opposing views, Gotion’s planned battery component manufacturing facility is ultimately subject to various federal regulations and laws. This includes the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which scrutinizes foreign investments in U.S. businesses to ensure they do not pose a threat to the national security of the country.

The debate over renewable energy and Chinese businesses in Green Charter Township is complex and multifaceted. While some are concerned about the potential expansion of Chinese reach and influence in the area, others see the planned development as an opportunity to bring back jobs and accelerate the deployment of renewable energy. Ultimately, it is important to ensure that all proposed developments are subject to the appropriate federal regulations and laws to protect national security and ensure the long-term well-being of the local community.