Chris Talgo ([email protected]) is editorial director at The Heartland Institute.
Most Americans are familiar with the tale of the Trojan horse, in which Greek warriors hid inside a hollow horse statue left at the gates of Troy in an attempt to fool their enemy and win the decade-long Trojan War. Eventually, the Trojans opened the gates, pulled the horse in, and the rest, as they say, is history.
In our modern lexicon, the term Trojan horse is typically used to convey what Merriam-Webster defines as, “someone or something intended to defeat or subvert from within usually by deceptive means.”
That definition certainly applies to the situation in Michigan, where the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is attempting to “subvert from within” by backing a lithium battery components factory in Big Rapids.
However, unlike the circumstances in Troy, in which Trojan leaders were tricked by their enemy into accepting a “gift” that turned out to hasten their downfall, Michigan leaders are in cahoots with the enemy by making it as easy as possible for the CCP to successfully conduct its twenty-first-century rendition of the Trojan horse ploy in the heartland of the United States.
This week, the Michigan Senate approved $175 million in taxpayer subsidies to Gotion Inc. for the construction of a three-million-square-foot electric vehicle battery parts manufacturing facility in Green Charter Township.
The plan, known as Project Elephant, “is the biggest ever economic development project in Northern Michigan and will shore up our status as the global hub of mobility and electrification,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
The incentives package offered by Michigan also includes a “Designated Renaissance Zone estimated to be worth $540 million.”
The primary problem with Project Elephant, aside from the fact that it reeks of corporate welfare and crony capitalism, is that Gotion Inc. is an arm of the Chinese Communist Party.
According to the company’s bylaws, “The Articles of Association are formulated in accordance with the Company Law of the People’s Republic of China,” the “Securities Law of the People’s Republic of China,” and the “Constitution of the Communist Party of China and other relevant laws and regulations.”
Moreover, the 2022 bylaws state, “The Company shall set up a Party organization and carry out Party activities in accordance with the Constitution of the Communist Party of China. The Company shall ensure necessary conditions for carrying out Party activities. The secretary of the Party committee shall be the chairman.”
Michigan state Sen. Lana Theiss (R-22nd District), who voted against the $175 million subsidy package, believes Project Elephant is a major security threat. “By law, as a Chinese company, Gotion must submit to CCP directives, which could include espionage and intellectual property theft — acts that our own FBI deems its top counterintelligence priority,” Theiss warned. “And if worse comes to worst, it is not inconceivable that China could weaponize the plant causing untold damage and security risks.”
This is not hyperbole. In recent months, China has been caught red-handed spying on the United States on multiple fronts. And, China has a long and sordid history of stealing U.S. intellectual property.
Theiss also points out that there are several environmental risks associated with this giant battery factory, which will be located near the Muskegon River.
According to Theiss:
The plan has yet to receive the environmental impact study and/or approval necessary for such a project. Neither Gotion nor economic development officials have addressed any questions or concerns about its plans for this plant or track record on existing plants in terms of environmental impact… We also don’t know how or if the company plans to secure the transportation of the highly volatile materials that go into making vehicle batteries, which are highly combustible and toxic.
This should not be taken lightly, as the recent train derailment disaster in East Palestine, Ohio proves that just one mishap during the transportation of toxic materials can produce awful consequences on a small community.
Like it or not, we are at the beginning of a new cold war with an up-and-coming communist superpower. During the previous cold war, it would have been inconceivable, perhaps treasonous, for a state to woo a Soviet-aligned technology company with huge sums of taxpayer money to set up shop in the United States.
Yet, in 2023, just a few years after China (intentionally or accidentally) unleashed COVID-19 upon the world, a Midwestern state is bending over backward to entice a CCP-backed entity to do business in our backyard.
It pains me to say so, but the Chinese Communist Party appears to be playing chess at the level of Deep Blue while our so-called leaders are struggling to simply play checkers.
The opinions expressed in guest op-eds are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of RedState.com.
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