Lawmakers want the US to investigate four Chinese firms involved in a Ford battery plant

The chairmen of two U.S. House committees have asked the Biden administration to investigate four Chinese companies they say are involved in a planned Ford Motor ( NYSE:F ) battery plant in Michigan, according to a letter seen by Reuters on Monday.

The letter, first reported by Reuters, said the four Chinese companies have direct ties to the Chinese military, the Chinese Communist Party, the North Korean government and alleged human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang region.

The factory has drawn fire from US lawmakers for using technology supplied by Chinese battery maker CATL.

Rep. Mike Gallagher, who chairs the China Subcommittee, and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee, urged the Commerce Department to investigate and impose export restrictions on four Chinese companies they said were involved in ” device design”. , construction and information technology (IT) processes.

The Chinese companies were not named in the letter, seen by Reuters, because the committees reviewed confidential records provided by Ford and were not allowed to disclose their identities.

Ford said on Monday that it complies with “all government regulations across our business”, adding: “Ford suppliers are required to meet our higher standards, including human rights protections, and are required to extend these requirements to the suppliers they may work with .”

In September, the two lawmakers demanded documents from Ford related to its CATL partnership and threatened to call CEO Jim Farley to testify before Congress.

In a separate letter released Monday, the lawmakers wrote to Farley and asked the automaker to “make available for an interview a company official who can speak with us about the due diligence that Ford conducted before and after the CATL agreements.”

Republicans have scrutinized Ford’s battery factory plan for months over concerns it could facilitate the flow of US tax subsidies to China and leave Ford dependent on Chinese technology. Ford says the battery plant is “wholly owned and operated” by the automaker.

Lawmakers said the Ford-CATL deal puts the Beijing-based company in charge of preparing a “conceptual design” for a battery factory in Michigan. The committee said the same Chinese company provides engineering design services to the Chinese military.

Lawmakers separately wrote to the Treasury and State Departments asking them to investigate possible sanctions evasion by one of the Chinese companies they said would provide IT tools to a Michigan battery factory with ties to North Korea.

“It is indefensible that Ford would use the same cloud integration and data provider that is connected to sanctions evasion activity at the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” the letter said.

In response, the Treasury Department said it remained committed to combating “illegal revenue-generating activities in North Korea, ranging from the use of overseas workers to money laundering and cyber espionage.”

Human rights organizations accuse Beijing of abusing Xinjiang’s Uyghur population, including the mass use of forced labor in internment camps. China denies the allegations.

Ford dramatically cut investment and capacity for the Michigan plant in November after suspending work two months ago. Ford originally planned a $3.5 billion factory, but now expects to invest $2 billion in its battery factory.

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