Chinese Communist-Linked Battery Maker Tries To Evict Michigan Man From Land

A Chinese Communist Party-linked battery manufacturing giant is suing a Michigan man in a bid to get him off land near which the company plans to build its plant.

Gotion Inc., a subsidiary of the Chinese-based firm Gotion High-Tech, is slated to build a $2.4 billion manufacturing plant in Big Rapids, Michigan. Stephan Fenstermacher, a man living in Big Rapids, sold land to Gotion under an agreement between the two parties that he could reside on the property. Gotion is now looking to terminate Fenstermacher’s residency and possess the land, arguing Fenstermacher violated the terms of the agreement, according to a lawsuit first reported by the Michigan News Source.

Many Michigan residents have expressed ire with Gotion’s plans to build its plant because its parent company, Gotion High-Tech, has extensive ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the Daily Caller News Foundation previously reported. Residents voted in November elections to oust five of the seven members of the Green Charter Township board over their handling of the Gotion issue.

Gotion High-Tech employed 923 members of the CCP as of 2022 — including the company’s CEO, Li Zhen. The company openly admitted that it “founded a CCP branch in 2010 that was upgraded to a CCP committee in 2014,” according to its 2022 ESG Report.

Gotion claims that Fenstermacher violated the terms of the agreement with the company because he did not properly maintain the land and made alterations to the property, including removing certain infrastructure elements, without consulting the company first, according to the lawsuit published by Michigan News Source. Gotion also alleges that Fenstermacher invited guests over to the property without approval from the landlord and engaged in activities such as feeding deer that are prohibited by law.

“Gotion also demands that you reimburse Gotion for any costs Gotion will incur to restore the property back to its pre-closing condition,” Ashley G. Chrysler, a lawyer representing Gotion, wrote in a letter to Fenstermacher on Dec. 21. “Should you fail to comply with these demands, Gotion reserves all rights and remedies at law and equity, including bringing legal action against you.”

When Fenstermacher didn’t comply with the terms, Gotion issued a notice demanding rights to the property by Feb. 26, according to Michigan News Source. Fenstermacher has not vacated the property, which prompted Gotion to seek his eviction. A pretrial for the case is set for April 9.

Gotion Inc. and Fenstermacher did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Jake Smith

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Jake Smith

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