Former CIA Director and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta warned Congress this week that China could use an electric vehicle battery plant in Michigan to spy on the United States.
Speaking before the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party during a Tuesday afternoon hearing, Panetta spoke regarding the possibility of China’s government supporting America’s overseas adversaries.
When Rep. John Moolenaar (R-MI) asked Panetta if China could potentially use the plant to spy on the United States, the former defense secretary and CIA director answered in the affirmative. “I don’t think there’s any question that they’re going to take advantage of that situation,” said Panetta.
“In our democracy we govern by leadership or crisis. If we fail to provide leadership, then we will govern by crisis, and the price of that is the loss of the trust of the American people.” – Hon. Leon Panetta
“This committee provides hope that we can govern and work together.” pic.twitter.com/AIrFu9xm9N
— Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party (@committeeonccp) January 30, 2024
“And I think we have to be very vigilant about what the hell is going on. That’s just the way they operate. They’ll establish a manufacturing unit, they’ll establish whatever they can, and then they will use that for their own intelligence purposes. They will use that for their own economic purposes,” Panetta added.
The Chinese firm Gotion High-Tech, a subsidiary of Hefei, is currently developing the $2.36 billion electric battery plant in Michigan to supply anode and cathode materials for lithium-ion batteries for a battery factory Gotion is building in nearby Illinois.
“They’ll use it to be able to gain the kind of advantages that are counter, frankly, to the interests of the United States,” Panetta told Rep. Moolenaar. “I think it is very important in those situations to make sure that the United States, and that our intelligence capabilities, are being used to make sure that we know what they are doing that could hurt the United States.”
Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: TikTok and other CCP social media outlets are part of its information warfare in America. We have to defend ourselves, and we have the tools to do it well. Former CIA Director Leon Panetta: It is very important for us to have good… pic.twitter.com/vgziJRmaax
— NFSC Speaks (@NFSCSpeak) February 1, 2024
Another former CIA director and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo agreed with Panetta’s assessment during the hearing: “I think it is worse than the fact that they will engage in espionage. I think that’s just top of the list. They will use this in ways that will leverage Chinese advantage. These plants are deeply dangerous to our national security and ought not be built.”
Panetta warned the U.S. Army last year of a possible “Cyber Pearl Harbor” coming that could devastate U.S. infrastructure, businesses, and the hit military as well. “Cyber is, without question, the battlefield of the future, and it is the battlefield of right now,” said Panetta. “We know the Russians will use cyber against our country and against others.”