BIG RAPIDS, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – A little more than 24 hours after Michigan News Source reported on a Chinese company referred to as “Gochin” meeting with the Taliban government to offer them $10 billion dollars for access to Afghanistan’s lithium deposits, a key element to make batteries for electric vehicles, we still don’t know any more about the company than when the name first surfaced on the internet last week.
Michigan News Source along with two former U.S. ambassadors, current members of Congress, state lawmakers, and prominent Chinese experts, were all questioning whether the company “Gochin” referenced on the website of the Afghanistan Ministry of Mines and Petroleum was actually a bad translation of the company “Gotion” and maybe the two companies were actually the same company – or somehow affiliated with each other.
Gotion Inc., which is a subsidiary of Gotion High-Tech, is involved in a controversial Governor Gretchen Whitmer-supported Big Rapids battery plant. The funding has been on hold because there are so many Big Rapids residents against the plant coming into their town and lawmakers have been left with lingering questions on environmental and national security issues. However, there might be movement with a Senate Appropriations Committee meeting scheduled for Thursday, April 20th at 11:30 a.m. Political reporter Johnathan Oosting of Bridge Michigan has tweeted that the “legislative transfer request” on the agenda tomorrow involves Gotion.
Five Michigan GOP senators sent a letter Tuesday to U.S. Senators and House members demanding “swift action” regarding the proposed Gotion battery plant in Big Rapids and its possible ties to China and alleged connections to “adversarial” nations. The letter said, “We are writing to urge you to use all legal federal resources available to immediately investigate whether Gotion High-tech Co., Ltd. as registered on the Swiss Stock Exchange has ties or contracts with foreign countries that have an adversarial relationship with the United States of America.”
We reached out to Gotion VP President of North America Operations, Chuck Thelen, to ask if the company “Gochin” is, in fact, “Gotion” and he got back to us today and said that they are “Two totally different companies. We are not affiliated whatsoever. We don’t need their lithium, frankly, we have plenty.”
When asked if he knows anything about the “Gochin” company referenced by the Taliban government, Thelen said, “I’ve never even heard of that company, frankly, and I do know a lot of the Chinese-based, or at least the names of the Chinese-based battery companies and I’ve never seen that name before.”
He added, “I had confirmation from my boss who is head of manufacturing globally and I had confirmation from my chief technical officer (about) that company, we don’t do any business with them, we don’t know them, they’re not part of our organization.”
Thelen isn’t the only one who doesn’t know who “Gochin” is, where they are located in China or who is running the company. After many hours of research, we have found no online footprint for “Gochin” that exists before it was announced as the company that was dealing with the Taliban for lithium mining.
No website has been found, no address, no photos or press releases from the company, and no business listings in databases or media reports. ”Gochin” is currently a complete mystery and will probably remain that way until either China or Afghanistan is willing to provide more information on the company. The fact that the company is not well known is a surprise since they were able to come up with $10 billion dollars in funding to offer to another country. Considering that it was announced that a Chinese company, whoever it is, could have a possible deal in place with the Taliban government to mine lithium, it seems like the world press would be interested in finding out who “Gochin” really is.
Just the News reporter Addison Smith writes that former ambassador and former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra is troubled about the possible deal regardless of whether Gotion and “Gochin” are the same company. He told Smith, “This is one more major red flag. Michigan is investing in a company with ties to the CCP, the CCP is negotiating with the Taliban to control lithium coming out of Afghanistan, regardless of whether the companies involved are one in the same or not, Michigan is fueling the CCP’s march to EV global battery dominance.”
Just the News also reports that Gotion High-Tech published a 2021 ESG (environmental, social and governance) report that brags of their social responsibility. When we took a look at the report, we saw that under “National attachment and social responsibility” the company lists that in the end of June, they had a series of “Party-building activities” that were carried out to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Part of China. They also said that they were listed in “China’s Top 500 Brands in 2021” as well as being an “Outstanding Communist Party Member of Hefei City” and Gotion High-Tech Chairman Li Zhen was awarded to be one of the “top 10 Brand Figures of 2021.”