‘I’m all for business, but not communist business’: Mich. residents resist planned Chinese-owned factories

Rural residents of Mecosta County, Michigan, united at a recent Green Charter Township board meeting to push back against a decision by state lawmakers to allow Gotion Global, a Chinese-owned company, to build a plant in Big Rapids that would make batteries for electric vehicles.

More than 100 residents of Green Charter Township and Big Rapids turned up for the March 14 meeting to voice their anger over the plan, at a time when many believe China poses a great threat to the national security of our country.

One resident, a veteran of the Iraq War, cited the potential for pollution and the “30 years tax-free” benefit the company would receive, and stated, “But, the thing that drives some the most crazy about this is that this is a Chinese-owned company.”

“A Chinese-owned company is a communist company,” he said. “Why would you bring a communist company to Big Rapids, Michigan, when we have troops mobilizing right now to fight China?”

“Why would we invite the enemy to come spy on us?” he asked. “All the things on here are bad, but the thing that drives me the most nuts is that it is our enemy, not the Chinese people. I have nothing against the Chinese people because they suffer under the same communism that you all are trying to bring here. It’s disgusting.”

Another resident noted that Gotion was “only interested if they could purchase the land.”

“They would no way consider a lease,” the passionate resident said. “Why do they have to own the land?”

She listed the many natural resources in the state, saying Michigan has “so many things that the Chinese want.”

“We’re not in a cold war,” she stressed. “We’re in a warm war with them right now. They want their tentacles in here. We’re by Army barracks. We’re by airports.”

She went on to remind residents that taxpayers would have to foot the bill for roads, rails, and waterways to accommodate Gotion.

“Things are going to change, and we’re going to end up looking like Detroit,” she predicted. “I’m all for business, but not communist business.”

To that, the crowd responded with applause and agreement.

On Twitter, former Republican gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon, who barely lost to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last year, voiced her support for the angry residents.

“I stand with the residents fighting back against having a 700-acre Chinese battery plant in their backyard that could easily double as a base for spying on Americans,” she tweeted. “No Gotion in Michigan!”

In a hearing, Republican state Rep. Bill Schuette asked one witness, “What would happen to this project, to this investment, if China invades Taiwan next year?”

“I don’t know how to answer that question,” the witness responded.

“How absurd is it that this question has to even be asked,” Dixon tweeted. “Gretchen Whitmer and Lansing Democrats are giving $715 million of your money to an ENEMY of the free world.”

According to Fox News, “Michigan lawmakers also approved $585 million in funding from the state to go toward the building of the plant, along with two others, that would produce electric vehicle batteries. The plant was approved for construction by a state economic development board and was originally supposed be constructed on land in both Big Rapids and Green Charter Township.”

In October 2022, Governor Whitmer called the announcement of Michigan Strategic Fund approval of “two electric vehicle battery investments that will serve increasing demand for battery production and a vital infrastructure improvement project in West Michigan” a “historic day” for her state.

“Today, we’re bringing home over $4.1 billion in investments to Michigan, creating more than 4,600 jobs across Big Rapids, Van Buren Township, and Ottawa and Muskegon counties,” she said at the time. “This is yet another historic day for Michigan this year as we continue to secure generational opportunities in our manufacturing and engineering workforce, grow a sustainable economy, and make critical infrastructure improvements to support the state’s robust agriculture industry.”

But according to Gotion, their plant is “not a done deal,” Fox News reports.

Following a unanimous vote from the town board to request a federal review to look at any national security risks a Chinese-owned company might pose, Gotion temporarily put the planned construction in Big Rapids on hold, according to The Detroit News.

Despite the vote, Chuck Thelen, vice president of Gotion Global, said that the company was “moving forward with the Green Township property and still in discussion about the Big Rapids Township land.”

The proposed plan will be on the agenda on April 5, when Green Charter Township is scheduled to hold another meeting.

Melissa Fine


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