Chinese electric vehicle battery maker Gotion has temporarily delayed its request to rezone a portion of land in Green Charter Township, much to the delight of many in the community.
Gotion says the pause will allow them time to answer questions from the community and await a report from the U.S. government that reviews foreign investments and national security. That review was requested by a neighboring township board.
In a win for Gotion, however, the U.S. Department of Treasury determined that the purchase of Michigan land is not covered under the Defense Production Act, meaning the project continues to move forward, with the support of the township’s board, despite concerns in the community.
The Green Charter Township Supervisor Jim Chapman said he’s confident Gotion is still coming — and the project will move forward as early as July.
But some residents aren’t giving up, even going up against their elected officials who support the Gotion project. They’ve started a petition to recall the entire board, citing a lack of communication and transparency.
More than 415 signatures are needed to recall the board, and organizer Lori Brock is confident they’ll have enough by next week. If they’re successful, there will be a new election.
“It means we can go to an election in November and have our own people run against them and get rid of these people (the current board members),” said Brock. “That is what we wanted all along is to have a voice in this.”
She believes taking over the board is the only way to stop Gotion.
“We are pushing back … little wins,” said Brock. “But we are thrilled to have them; it brings more wind in our sails. Every time we get a win or more people joining up with us, it gives us more wind and we are very confident we are going to be OK.”
NewsNation reached out to Michigan lawmakers who voted in favor of Gotion, along with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Gotion itself.
Green Charter Township isn’t alone in this struggle. It’s also happening in Hopkinsville, Kentucky.
Residents in that part of the Bluegrass State are concerned that a company rumored to be connected to China is trying to build on farmland near the military base of Fort Campbell.
Microvast, like Gotion, makes batteries for electric vehicles. While they say they are not owned by China — nor connected to it — the U.S. Senate Committee on Science and Natural Resources has expressed concern over their CEO’s connection to China. Some Hopkinsville residents say the company has not been thoroughly vetted.
To residents, it seemed like good news when Microvast planned to build a factory — and bring almost 600 jobs with it. The U.S. Department of Energy even awarded the company a $200 million grant.
Shortly after, however, the Senate committee in Washington started investigating and claimed at public hearings that Micorvast was connected to China and the grant was rescinded.
Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., claimed during one hearing that 60% of Microvast’s revenue came from China and only 1% came from the U.S. He also claimed that the company’s CEO Yang Wu bragged that Microvast’s technology was developed in China, and asserted in the hearing that Wu was recruited by the Chinese Community Party.
Microvast declined a NewsNation request for an interview but in a statement on their website, they say they are not affiliated with the CCP.
“Microvast is based in Texas, its shares are traded on Nasdaq, and the operations for our global business are centralized in the U.S. Neither the Chinese government nor the Chinese Communist Party has any ownership in the Company, nor do they control or influence Company operations in any way,” the statement read in part.
Wu is a U.S. citizen and resides in the United States.
The state of Kentucky has put its funding for the Microvast project on hold as it awaits more details about why the Energy Department grant was rescinded.