Two House Republicans holding chair positions on two key committees are calling on the federal government to investigate alleged ties between automaker Ford and four unnamed Chinese business partners.
The accusations focus on the automaker’s $3.5 billion new battery manufacturing facility currently under construction in Michigan. Given that the site would support the production of electric vehicles, Ford is set to receive government subsidies to support the plant’s development.
However, the initiative drew objections from Republican lawmakers last year when it was revealed that the company planned to license equipment from Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. (CATL), a Chinese battery manufacturer, for use at the factory. Critics expressed concerns that China would profit from taxpayer funds as a result of the two brand’s agreement while noting that such an allegiance undermined the Biden Administration’s commitment to weaken U.S. manufacturing reliance on overseas entities.
Republican representatives Mike Gallagher, chair of the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, have now formally called on federal authorities to examine four businesses providing IT and architectural services at the Ford plant with ties to China. While the names of each organization have yet to be announced, the two lawmakers claimed the implicated companies were involved with both Chinese and North Korean governments and implicated in human rights abuses of Uyghur Muslims. It is not clear if CATL is included in the list of potential offenders.
In letters addressed to the Treasury and Commerce departments, Gallagher and Rodgers wrote: “It is unconscionable for Ford to purchase critical IT infrastructure from a Chinese company that facilitates sanctions evasion activity on behalf of the North Korean government. Indeed, this poses significant cybersecurity risks.”
Ford has continued to deny allegations that it is supporting Chinese interests, noting in the past that its partnership with CATL is only to license technology and gives its business partner no control over the facility. The automaker scaled back production and hiring expectations for the Michigan battery facility in November, attributing its decision to slower than expected growth in the electric vehicle market.