Ford’s announcement last week that it will build its new battery plant – a joint venture with Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL), a company with close ties to the Chinese Communist Party – in Michigan instead of Southside Virginia was met with a fresh deluge of performative outrage from many Virginia Democrats. But while liberals in Richmond continue to downplay and dismiss China’s malign actions in a desperate attempt to score cheap political points, Governor Glenn Youngkin is both protecting Virginia’s sovereignty and delivering record investment and job growth for our Commonwealth.

As the governor made clear when he removed Virginia from consideration for the battery plant in January, the project was little more than a front for the CCP and is not in the best interests of Virginia or the United States.

According to a 2021 New York Times report, CATL is essentially a subsidiary of the CCP and received “lavish subsidies, a captive market of buyers, and soft regulatory treatment,” from the Chinese government. Zeng Yugun, the company’s CEO, is a member of at least one industry group led by the Chinese Politburo. Some whistleblowers have even linked the company to forced labor operations as a part of China’s persecution of Muslim minorities in Xinjiang Province.

While the proposed battery plant would have been built nominally under the Ford label, the details of the agreement reveal that CATL would have in effect retained control of the project, including all battery technology. The practice of using Chinese technology – which has been questioned by both Republicans and Democrats in Congress – is clearly structured as a workaround of existing state and federal laws designed to break China’s stranglehold on the electric vehicle battery production market, thus allowing the Chinese firm to obtain tax benefits that are reserved for U.S. companies.

In effect, Virginia taxpayers would have been subsidizing a development that primarily benefited the Chinese Communist Party and reserved only marginal benefits for American companies and workers. 

Virginia Democrats’ refusal to see this as a legitimate threat to the security and human rights interests of the U.S. is both alarming and an abject dereliction of duty. As the recent spy balloon fiasco showed, Beijing has no qualms about blatantly violating our territorial borders, and Xi Jinping has likely been emboldened by President Joe Biden’s weak response. Effective leaders are proactive in guarding against threats and not willing to sacrifice vital security interests in exchange for a few positive headlines.

Thankfully, Youngkin has repeatedly taken decisive action to protect against creeping Chinese influence. In December, he issued an executive order banning TikTok from government devices, thereby guarding Commonwealth assets against a popular social media app that the FBI says China can use to spy on users. Late last month, the governor also called on the legislature to pass a bill banning Chinese entities from buying Virginia farmland, which recently passed both chambers with bipartisan support.

In fact, the governor’s leadership in countering China has been one of the few areas of bipartisan agreement in the legislature this term. That Democrats refuse to admit that the battery plant was a Chinese Trojan horse reveals the political nature of their opposition. They are shamefully willing to turn a blind eye to legitimate concerns about the project because they think they can use their influence on the media to spin the story to damage the governor politically.

But while Democrats play partisan games, Youngkin is continuing to deliver for Virginians. Through initiatives like the Partnership for Petersburg, community block grants, new tourism programs, and other actions, the governor has shown that he is committed to helping all parts of our Commonwealth thrive. 

In total, more than 90,000 more Virginians are employed today than in January of 2022, and Youngkin has overseen more than $47 billion in investment since he took office. This impressive record of success only further underscores his commitment to establishing our Commonwealth as the best place in the country for businesses and workers to thrive.

But Virginia doesn’t need companies controlled by Beijing to succeed. As the governor said in his State of the Commonwealth address last month, “Made in America cannot be a front for the Chinese Communist Party.” That, at least, should be something we can all agree on.

Ken Nunnenkamp is the executive director of the Republican Party of Virginia. Born and raised in Northern Virginia, he attended Georgetown University and has worked in a variety of positions on political campaigns and organizations.

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