Lawmakers grow increasingly concerned about China's influence on US economy

As tensions flare between the U.S. and China, some lawmakers and elected leaders are growing increasingly wary of Chinese influence on America’s economy.

Not long after American fighter jets shot down a Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina, Ford Motor Company announced that they are moving forward with a new electric vehicle battery plant that will rely on the Chinese company Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited (CATL) for technical expertise.

Ford CEO Jim Farley defended the move during an interview with CNBC.

This plant is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ford,” Farley said. “We don’t expect any issues.

But some lawmakers are looking to cut more ties with China rather than building new ones.

“I’m not happy about what China did here. It wasn’t by accident. It wasn’t a damn weather balloon,” said Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.

Virginia was initially considered as a location for the enterprise but Gov. Glenn Youngkin quickly blocked the idea.

My biggest concern is that we have some of the most sensitive national assets in Virginia,” Youngkin said. “We’re not going to let them use other companies as a trojan horse to give them an economic boost that will only enrich companies that are controlled by the Chinese communist government.

China’s close involvement with Ford on an American-based battery plant received less criticism than China’s recent push to buy up farmland near American military bases — moves that set off bipartisan alarm bells, spurring federal legislation.

“I think it’s a fine balance. I do think that we need to continue economic ties that make sense that do not jeopardize the national security and it’s going to be on a transaction basis,” said Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C.

Biden has held back concerns, maintaining a business-as-usual attitude.

Have relations between the U.S. and China taken a big hit recently?” the president was asked.

No,” he responded.

Critics point out that this new battery plant helps the Biden administration’s efforts to expand electric vehicles in America. They argue it shows the president is putting climate goals ahead of national security.

American-Chinese business relations turning into a tricky tightrope as businessmen and politicians balance profit, policy and national security.