(NewsNation) — Residents in the small town of Manteno, Illinois, say they never would have thought an old K-Mart distribution center would become a Chinese-affiliated car battery plant loyal to the communist party.
“I don’t trust the Chinese, both as a veteran and an American citizen,” local resident Harry Garner said at a recent village council meeting. “I think you are making a terrible mistake bringing this plant in.”
Residents in the town of 9,000 are angry and blame their local council for, so far, supporting the Gotion High-tech project.
At the same meeting, another woman said the council should be ashamed for wanting to “reward China with a piece of the United States.”
Others accused local leaders of failing the country. They say the deal with Gotion was done behind closed doors.
Democratic Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker called the company’s $2 billion investment “historic,” and says it will create 2,600 jobs and make Illinois an electric vehicle powerhouse.
But Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., along with five other federal lawmakers, wrote a letter to the Treasury Department expressing concern about Gotion, which is also known as Guoxuan.
“The extent of the (Chinese Communist Party’s) control over Guoxuan is explicitly mentioned in the company’s corporate by-laws, which require the company to ‘carry out party activities in accordance with the constitution of the Chinese Communist Party,'” the letter says.
It goes on to point out that in 2021, “Guoxuan High-Tech hosted several company retreats where employees were mandated to recite a pledge of loyalty to the party, including to ‘fight for communism.'”
When asked whether he was reconsidering his support of the project in light of the letter, Manteno Mayor Tim Nugent said, “No.”
Despite the public outcry, Nugent isn’t backing down. He said the strong attendance at the recent meeting showed the subject is “controversial” and that “a lot of people think it’s a bad decision,” but Nugent said he and the board think otherwise.
After the meeting in Manteno, which is about 50 miles south of Chicago, residents met nearby to raise money for a lawyer and strategize.
Gotion did not respond to our request for comment on the Illinois plan, but they have said in the past they are not loyal to the Chinese Communist Party and that the CCP has not penetrated the company.