Members of the U.S. House Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party met with Ford and GM leadership Tuesday to talk about competition with China and strengthen Michigan’s manufacturing landscape while being conscious of environmental goals.
Committee Chair Mike Gallagher (R-Wisc.) joined fellow committee members Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), John Moolenaar (R-Midland) and Haley Stevens (D-Livonia) at the Detroit Metro Airport Westin for a press conference following conversations with two of the state’s biggest auto manufacturing CEOs. The meeting follows months of public controversy over China’s involvement in U.S. auto manufacturing.
Gotion Inc., a Chinese company with a U.S. subsidiary, has been making headlines for its plans to build a $2.4 billion electric vehicle battery facility in Mecosta County, Michigan. Ford also is building an electric vehicle plant near Marshall and is using technology from China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd.
GOP lawmakers both on the state and federal level have articulated their concerns that allowing China into Michigan auto manufacturing could lead to an infiltration of the Chinese Communist Party into Michigan politics.
Gallagher said following the talks with Ford and GM, he remains concerned with the high level of reliance on Chinese manufacturing already in place in the automotive industry. China all but dominates electric vehicle battery manufacturing and is expected to keep that foothold, with the International Energy Agency projecting China to maintain about 70% of production at least through 2030.
“American workers and American companies are on the front lines of this competition with the Chinese Communist Party. And in some ways, nobody’s been hit harder by the predatory practices of the CCP, than hard-working men and women in the industrial Midwest,” Gallagher said. “For too long, we’ve ignored the CCPs blatant violation of trade agreements, its intellectual property theft, its economic coercion that disadvantages American workers and has not allowed us to compete on a level playing field.”
And it’s not just electric vehicles; China is also dominating in autonomous self driving cars, Stevens added. The Michigan representative noted there are several regulations capping growth of the U.S. auto manufacturer industry, including caps on the number of self-driving vehicles each manufacturer can deploy.
In discussions about security, Krishnamoorthi said China isn’t playing fair when it comes to respecting privacy. Although China tests autonomous vehicles in the U.S., they do not allow the U.S to test in China.
“The reason why the CCP will not allow American car companies to go and test out autonomous vehicles. … It’s because they don’t want us to map their areas and to have the sensor equipment and the cameras and everything else that they think would violate their national security, and so why is it that it’s OK to do that here?” Krishnamoorthi said.
The members now say they will go back to Washington, D.C., to talk about how the U.S. can focus on the future of automotive technology, rather than concentrating on China’s dominance in the EV battery market. They said they will need to balance maintaining goals in managing climate change in manufacturing while working to regain U.S. autonomy in manufacturing.
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