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Lawmakers Call for Blacklisting Company Behind $2B Battery Factory

Their allegations link Gotion to forced labor in its native China.

A group of Republican lawmakers has accused the Chinese company behind a proposed $2 billion electric vehicle battery plant in the Midwest of using forced labor — and urged the Biden administration to blacklist it from the country altogether.

Rep. Darin LaHood, who represents a district spanning central and northern Illinois, said in a statement that an investigation by the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party found that Gotion’s supply chains and business relationships are entangled in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region — including the sourcing of lithium, aluminum foil, and other materials from companies or state-affiliated operators with known or suspected links to forced labor.

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    A federal law passed in 2021 bans products made with forced labor in the Xinjiang region, where the U.S. government has characterized the ongoing persecution of the Uyghur Muslim ethnic group as a genocide. In a letter to U.S. Homeland Security officials, LaHood and the other lawmakers called for adding the company to the list of those engaging in forced labor in Xinjiang and prohibiting its products from entering the country.

    Gotion and Illinois officials last year announced plans for a lithium-ion battery plant south of Chicago that would employ some 2,600 people. Gotion officials told Reuters in a statement that the letter’s assertions were “baseless and absolutely false,” while Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker’s office told NBC 5 Chicago that the state “fully” trusts the federal government’s review of the company. A nonprofit group, the network noted, had previously filed a lawsuit over the Kankanee-area project that accused Gotion of misrepresenting its ties to Beijing.

    The allegations follow a report from a Senate investigation that found ties to Xinjiang forced labor in the supply chains of car makers Volkswagen, BMW and Jaguar Land Rover.

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