LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source)-Several Michigan Lawmakers including members of the Senate and House Representatives posted a press conference including former U.S. Ambassadors Pete Hoekstra and Joseph Cella, to brief members of the media in public regarding possible connections between the Taliban and the Gotion EV Battery plant project in Big Rapids. 

Senator Jonathan Lindsey (R-Coldwater) held the press conference to express concerns regarding national security and the Gotion project, advocating for a more “rigorous vetting process” for state and taxpayer funded projects. 

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“If we pursue economic development projects here in Michigan, there should be a rigorous vetting process, it should not only consider national security concerns, but things like the environmental concerns,” Sen. Lindsey said, “It should of course begin with the question, is this a good deal for the people of Michigan?” 

Former U.S. Ambassador, Pete Hoekstra, called the potential Middle East link a “very dirty and dangerous operation” that will “lead to the exploitation of women and children.” 

“We now find ourselves in a position where Michigan taxpayer dollars most likely are going to end up going to the Chinese Communist Party and then funding the Chinese Communist Party through this “Gochin” company in Afghanistan buying lithium that will then find its way back to Michigan. Absolutely outrageous,” Hoekstra said in an earlier interview.  

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For one of the veterans, Senator Lindsey, the possible sourcing of Lithium mining in Afghanistan in partnership with the Taliban was something personal, who explained that during his time in the Middle East, locals told him about similar mining operations. 

“One of the locals claimed to me that in one of the areas in which we wouldn’t go conduct patrols, there was a Chinese mining operation there,” he said, “And while we were never able to go and confirm what was going on, the idea was just shocking.” 

“I’ve read about this several times, you can look back at the last decade or fifteen years of this idea that the Chinese Communist Party has not just under the current regime of the Taliban that took over in Afghanistan, but for years they have done what they can to exploit these sorts of situations,” he continued.  

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During a brief Q & A after the press conference, the panel was asked what sort of vetting process should the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) adopt when striking business deals, and what they were willing to do to get the process approved.

“From the outset, at the time the NDA’s and codenames started to rollout about 18 months ago, integrated into that process should have been a check box for a full CFIUS review,” Former Ambassador Joseph Cella said, “To investigate thoroughly potential national security threats by foreign investments; read Gotion, read CATL, read Eagle Township, and I think this is a great opportunity for these legislators to lead and plug that gap in tax policies that could require that.” 

Representative Andrew Fink (R-Hillsdale) who earlier declared “if you’re serious about national security, this is far from a partisan perspective,” also offered a potential solution to vetting future Michigan business deals in a secure way. 

“We have in Michigan the Iran Sanctions Act which essentially prohibits the state or political subdivisions of the state from contracting with Iran affiliated, Iran linked businesses, and if you’re doing your contracting at the local level you have to get a certification from the vendor that it is not an Iran linked business for purposes of the Iran Sanctions Act.” 

“I think it’s simple enough to say that we should develop a way to evaluate projects involving a Chinese entity for reasons we’ve already stated here,” he continued, “That might be some place in between the Iran Sanctions Act and how we would look at a contract with a Canadian company.” 

A member of the community less than 10 miles from the proposed Gotion project, Marjorie Steele, admitted to voting for Governor Whitmer twice, was also present at the conference and shared some of her concerns with the project. 

“I am an independent, and I largely vote Democrat for social issues but the Democratic Party’s dogged defense of the EV market despite searing environmental concerns and their complete lack of interest in exploring any of those concerns has honestly prompted me to ally with our Republican allies” Steele said, “The Republicans have been the only ones expressing any interest in their constituents genuine concerns about the environment.” 

On Tuesday, Senator Lana Theis (R-Brighton) published a letter to Michigan’s United States Senators and Representatives regarding the Gotion High-tech Co., Ltd battery manufacturer’s plans to build a facility in Big Rapids. 

“We are writing to urge you to use all legal federal resources available to mediately 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,” the letter said.  

The letter was signed by Senators Lana Theis, Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan), Joe Bellio (R-Monroe), Dan Lauwers (R-Brockway), and Kevin Daley (R-Lum).