The Chinese parent company of Gotion Inc., Hefei Gotion, employs 923 Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members, including its CEO, as reported in its 2022 ESG report. Gotion Inc., based in Fremont, California, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Gotion High-Tech Power Energy Co. and plans to invest $2.4 billion to build two electric vehicle (EV) battery production plants, each spanning 550,000 square feet, in Big Rapids, Michigan.
Despite having the support of Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and approval from the Biden administration, Gotion’s project has faced criticism due to its alleged ties with the CCP through its parent company. Gotion Inc.’s representatives have denied any influence from the CCP, but Chinese-language documents reveal that their Hefei-based parent company is led by a CCP member and employs hundreds more.
Gotion High-Tech had founded a CCP branch in 2010, which was later upgraded to a committee in 2014. According to their 2022 ESG Report, the CCP committee comprises two general branches and 11 party branches, with 923 CCP members, over half of whom hold master’s degrees or higher. The CEO of Gotion High-Tech, Li Zhen, also serves as the party secretary for the firm’s CCP committee.
Concerns about Gotion’s links with the CCP were raised after The Midwesterner reported that Gotion High-Tech’s “Articles of Association” state that the company should set up a Party organization and conduct Party activities following the Constitution of the Communist Party of China. Furthermore, the secretary of the Party committee should also be the chairman.
However, Gotion’s North American manufacturing vice president Chuck Thelen has insisted there is no such language in the U.S.-based company’s articles of incorporation. He further stated that the Chinese Communist Party has no presence in the North American company. An unnamed spokesperson for Gotion echoed Thelen’s views, stating that Gotion Inc. is not supervised, directed, controlled, or financed by any foreign government or foreign political party.
Despite these reassurances, lawmakers remain apprehensive, especially because Gotion’s proposed Michigan battery plant will be located within close proximity to military armories and Camp Grayling, the country’s largest U.S. National Guard training facility. As of now, Gotion and Li Zhen have not responded to requests for comment on this issue.