GOP Urges Biden To Ban Chinese Battery Companies Over Forced Labor Links

Republican lawmakers are urging the Biden administration to ban imports from two major Chinese battery manufacturers with U.S. business interests, citing connections to forced labor in China’s Xinjiang region. A group of five Republicans, including Chairman of the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) John Moolenaar and Florida Senator Marco Rubio, have written letters to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) demanding action against CATL and Gotion High-Tech.

These lawmakers argue that both companies are linked to forced labor practices involving Uyghur Muslims, a minority group subjected to human rights abuses by the CCP. The Daily Caller News Foundation reports that the lawmakers’ letters specifically highlight Gotion High-Tech’s connections to the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), a U.S.-blacklisted entity involved in the region’s abuses.

CATL is involved in a licensing deal with Ford, which plans to build a factory in Michigan using CATL’s technology. Meanwhile, Gotion High-Tech’s subsidiary, Gotion Inc., aims to construct facilities in Michigan and Illinois with federal and state subsidies. Being listed under the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) would significantly hinder these companies’ operations in the U.S.

The letters claim that the supply chains of both companies are “deeply compromised” by forced labor links. For Gotion High-Tech, the lawmakers noted its association with XPCC and other entities involved in forced labor practices. They argued, “Gotion’s supply chains are deeply compromised by links to entities whose goods, wares, articles, or merchandise are mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part in Xinjiang.”

Similarly, the lawmakers detailed CATL’s upstream connections to XPCC, citing primary sources and academic materials to build their case. They pointed out that CATL previously held a significant ownership stake in a company participating in forced labor programs until divesting in early 2023.

The impact of these allegations is already evident. In September 2023, Ford paused construction of the Michigan factory that intended to use CATL technology. A Ford spokesperson emphasized that the factory “will be owned and run by Ford” and that all suppliers must comply with Ford’s code of conduct.

The push by these Republican lawmakers underscores ongoing concerns about human rights abuses in Xinjiang and the ethical implications of doing business with companies linked to forced labor. The Biden administration’s response to these calls for action remains to be seen.