After Ford Motor Co. paused its controversial $3.5 billion project with a Chinese electric vehicle (EV) battery maker, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) wants the Biden administration to take a step further in expelling Chinese communist influence operations, which, in his view, use Chinese companies as tools.
On Sept. 25, Ford announced the halting of the EV battery plant involving China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. (CATL). “We’re pausing work, and we’re going to limit spending on construction at Marshall until we're confident about our ability to competitively run the plant,” Ford spokesman T.R. Reid told The Epoch Times via email.
CATL is a leader in the EV battery industry that has enjoyed annual subsidies of tens of billions of U.S. dollars from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The battery plant in Marshall, Michigan, initially scheduled for operation in 2026, would be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ford; CATL would provide battery technology, some equipment, and workers.
“These companies are not just economic competitors but tools of the Chinese Communist Party,” Mr. Rubio said. “Now is the time for the Biden administration to make clear that we will not tolerate communist China’s influence over American industry and public officials and will expel these influence operations from American soil.”
The top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee has been wary of the Ford–CATL deal since the beginning.
On the day of Ford’s announcement in February, Mr. Rubio wrote a letter to the secretaries of Treasury, Energy, and Transportation asking for a review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, an interagency panel in charge of assessing national security risks of transactions involving foreign entities.
Given the strategic importance of the EV battery sector for the CCP and the Party's heavy subsidies supporting key players' rise to global dominance, Mr. Rubio called CATL a “PRC national champion” in his February statement, referring to the official name of the People’s Republic of China.
In early March, he introduced a bill to block Chinese companies’ access to EV-related tax credits under the Inflation Reduction Act. Since then, many Republican lawmakers have sought to review Ford’s licensing agreement and discuss the national security risks with the company.
One of the leaders is Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), chair of the House Select Committee on the CCP, a House panel established in January.
In his emailed statement to The Epoch Times on Sept. 25, Mr. Gallagher called for Ford to cancel the deal with CATL.
“After months of investigation by the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, we're encouraged to see Ford take a crucial first step to reevaluate its deal with Chinese Communist Party-aligned EV battery firm CATL,” he said. “CATL's deep ties to CCP forced labor have no place in the American market and make the company exceptionally unfit to receive American taxpayer dollars.
“Now, Ford needs to call off this deal for good.”