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Michigan auto projects draw protests over China connections

(NewsNation) — Nearly 1,000 Michiganders rallied in Grand Charter Township to protest a project by Chinese-owned Gotion, planned in Michigan. In February, another controversial project in Michigan drew controversy for its alleged involvement with a Chinese company.

During the Saturday protest, residents shared concerns about recent alleged efforts for spying from the Chinese communist party.

About 100 miles from the planned site of the Gotion E-V battery factory is Camp Grayling, where the Michigan National Guard is training the Taiwanese military.

“You don’t have to connect too many dot to see the connection between the Chinese government and the Chinese connection with that. You know I’ve been looking and I see spy balloons, okay, we see TikTok under investigation, we see Xi Jinping meeting with Putin,” said John Thorn, a Grand Charter Township resident protesting the plant.

But it’s not the only electric vehicle factory set to be built in Michigan raising concerns for it’s ties to China.

In Marshall, Michigan, another rural area of the state, Ford Motor Company is collaborating with a Chinese company, drawing backlash from lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

In February, Ford announced a $3.5 billion EV project in connection with Chinese supplier Contemporary Amperex Technology Co.

After being questioned about the project by lawmakers, Ford officials clarified that the project was not a joint venture.

“There will be no foreign investment in the plant. This is not a joint venture. Ford is simply licensing technology to make these batteries. The government of China has no role in the project, and no tax dollars will go to the company licensing us the technology,” Chris Smith, Ford’s chief government affairs officer, told the Michigan House Appropriations Committee during a Feb. 22 hearing.

Last month, a corn mill project by the China-based food producer Fufeng Group was stopped in Grand Forks, North Dakota, after the local city council voted unanimously to end ties with the company.

“You have to be a voice you have to have the courage to step forward. You have to form a grassroots group that is willing to fight,” said a Grand Forks resident who was protesting the corn mill project by the Fufeng Group.

South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds (R) and Montana Sen. John Tester (D) are now teaming up to pass a bipartisan bill to prevent foreign adversaries from buying American farmland.

“Those places don’t want to see us exist anymore. The last thing we need to do is let them buy up farmland which is critical to our food security and to our national security,” Tester said announcing the bill.

In addition to the bipartisan bill working its way through Congress, 11 state legislatures across the U.S. are considering laws to limit countries like China from purchasing American farmland.

China currently controls 384,000 acres of agricultural land in the U.S., with about three quarters of those being in the South, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.