Green Charter Township lies around 50 miles east of Lake Michigan. It has turned into the center of an ongoing battle as the approximately 3,200 residents of this rural community do their best to prevent its takeover by Gotion, a Shanghai-based corporation that "pledges allegiance" to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Gotion was recently given the green light to develop an electric vehicle battery factory on several hundred acres of previously purchased land in Mecosta County. Democrats in Michigan approved this deal in April and the administration of President Joe Biden gave its own approval in June after a months-long national security review. (Related: Dems allow CCP to build a factory in Michigan amid rising tension between US and China over Taiwan.)
But the corporation recently issued a statement, saying that it had "listened to concerns of local residents and decided not to purchase two large parcels of land zoned for agriculture at this time."
"We've got a small win here," said resident Lori Brock, 58, a realtor who helped lead the fight against the purchase. "It was because we didn't get any help from Michigan, but we called the federal EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] and the federal EPA came up here and they got back some of the land for us."
"We're going to still continue to fight them every step of the way. We don't want them here. So we're going to do whatever it takes to keep them out of our community," concluded Brock.
However, Gotion was able to successfully purchase about 260 acres of derelict industrial land in Green Charter Township and another 10 acres of disused farmland.
Gotion has also made it clear that it expects to proceed with its plan to build an electric vehicle battery manufacturing plant in Mecosta County. Gotion's plans include it being paid $175 million in direct taxpayer funding to help build the factory.
"We don't want that factory in our community no matter what," said Brock. "We want an American company. Not one that is backed by the CCP."
"We're almost at war with China right now. Why are we allowing them to buy land here and we can't buy land in China? It doesn't make sense," she added. "We're fighting [the deal] tooth and nail."
"The Biden administration said it was okay," noted Michigan Republican gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon. "And yes, it should concern people that this Democrat governor came out and courted this company and then signed non-disclosure agreements around this."
Dixon and many other critics of the Gotion deal noted that there is a clause in the company's business filings, which states that Gotion "shall set up a party organization and carry out party activities in accordance with the constitution of the Communist Party of China."
Former director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center William Evanina further commented that it was "100 percent likely" that the Gotion plant would be used by the CCP as an espionage base.
Gotion's recent land purchases come as new data shows that Chinese firms now own more than $2 billion worth of U.S. farmland, a massive surge from just $162 million worth of farmland a decade ago.
The latest data from the Department of Agriculture notes that the CCP currently has a stake in 383,935 acres of agricultural land in the U.S. – with nearly half of all this farmland being in Texas.
In Val Verde County alone, more than 100,000 acres are held by Chinese billionaire and former People's Liberation Army captain Sun Guangxin, through two Chinese front companies Brazos Highland Properties LP and Harvest Texas LLC.
Watch this clip from "The Justin Barclay Show" as Michigander radio host Justin Barclay discusses how the tax scheme meant to help build Gotion's battery plant in the state may be illegal.