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Blue State Governor Defends Deal with CCP-tied Company, Labels Criticism ‘Xenophobia’

Pritzker said Republicans were xenophobic for questioning secret deal with Chinese company

Democratic Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is launching a full-scale attack against state Republican leaders in defense of his closed-door deal with an electric vehicle (EV) battery company with substantial ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

In a letter to Republican state Senate Minority Leader John Curran and other GOP state lawmakers this week, Pritzker accused critics of his recently-announced deal with Gotion Inc. of “resorting to xenophobia” in an effort to attain a “grotesque short-term political gain.” Pritzker’s sprawling letter defended the deal, arguing it would boost economic growth and create thousands of jobs.

“You and your members express your opposition to a major economic development announcement, and that can only be seen as doubling down on your own irrelevance,” Pritzker wrote Wednesday to the state Senate Republican Caucus in a letter obtained by Fox News Digital.

“The questions you have outlined in your letter are unserious and nothing more than political grandstanding,” he added. “I don’t have time to engage in your games because there is serious work to do governing as the people of this state elected me to do. When you all are ready to join us in a good-faith discussion, I will welcome any rational ideas on how to attract investment and grow jobs in our state.”

Democratic Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Gotion High-Tech Chairman Li Zhen deliver remarks celebrating the proposed EV battery factory earlier this month. (State of Illinois/Video screenshot)

Earlier this month, Gotion, whose parent company Gotion High-Tech is based in Hefei, China, unveiled plans to build a $2 billion lithium battery plant that is projected to create about 2,600 jobs in Manteno, Illinois. Pritzker joined Gotion High-Tech leaders, including Li Zhen, the company’s chairman and president, in a ceremony announcing the project.

As part of the announcement, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity said Gotion’s total incentive package from the state is valued at $536 million in taxpayer funds. Pritzker’s office stated the factory will be both the largest-ever EV battery production investment in Illinois and the most significant manufacturing investment in the state in decades.

On Tuesday, Curran and 15 fellow Republican state senators wrote privately to Pritzker, refraining from saying whether they support or oppose the project, but listing questions. Gotion investments in the U.S. have been scrutinized given the company’s closeness to the CCP.

For example, opponents of a Gotion project facing pushback in Michigan have particularly noted the company’s explicit allegiance to the Chinese government and often pointed to Gotion High-Tech’s corporate bylaws, which state that the company is required to “carry out Party activities in accordance with the Constitution of the Communist Party of China.” 

“This has become standard practice for this governor – the petulant name-calling to deflect any time he doesn’t want to answer a question,” Curran told Fox News Digital in an interview Thursday. “His two favorites are either ‘racist’ or ‘xenophobic.’ It is unbecoming of his office that he serves in, and it’s a disservice to the state of Illinois.”

“This is a massive investment of taxpayer dollars and we need to make sure that this is a wise investment on behalf of the people of Illinois,” he continued. 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker and President Xi Jinping

Democratic Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chinese President Xi Jinping (Getty Images)

In the letter Tuesday, Curran and his colleagues noted national security concerns about the deal with Gotion and further referenced an ongoing probe into Gotion announced by the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party this month.

The letter also questioned Pritzker on whether his office received assurances from Gotion that the Chinese military would not receive any batteries manufactured at the proposed plant. They also asked whether it was possible jobs at the facility would be outsourced.

“We can’t put jobs or anything ahead of what’s what’s best for America and what’s best for the state of Illinois. There’re ways to do this without giving money to the Chinese Communist Party,” state Rep. Blaine Wilhour, the vice chairman of the Illinois House Freedom Caucus, added in an interview with Fox News Digital. 

“We’re being extremely shortsighted on this. The governor is so desperate for any economic win that he is willing to put national security at risk to do it,” said Wilhour. “It’s unbelievable to me.”

A photo of Gov. J.B. Pritzker

Pritzker accused Republicans who voiced concerns about the project of xenophobia. (Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

And former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Cella, the co-founder of the Michigan-China Economic and Security Review Group, accused Pritzker of attempting to squash opposition to his deal. Cella has repeatedly warned that Gotion and other CCP-linked projects in the U.S. represent an attempted Chinese “incursion” in America.

“When Gov. Pritzker, Gotion, and other government and business elites discovered taxpayers, citizen activists, state legislators, and members of Congress in Illinois began highlighting the grave concerns with the Gotion-Manteno ‘deal’ and asking the basic and reasonable unasked questions on the hardest matters involving Gotion, particularly the national security threat it presents, they swiftly set out on a search-and-destroy mission to crush local opposition,” Cella said. 

“We have seen it all before in Michigan,” he added. “Whether it is derisive remarks, mocking, spin, pushback, or shrill and phony charges such as ‘xenophobia’ and ‘racism.’ This is textbook disinformation and is what happens when state and local governments become intertwined with a PRC-based and CCP-tied company on a subnational incursion and influence operation.”

When asked for a comment on the letter sent to Republicans Wednesday, Pritzker spokesperson Alex Gough told Fox News Digital, “the letter is the comment.”

Source: Fox News