John Kerry owns a $1 million stake in the investment group, Hillhouse China Value Fund L.P., which is backing LONGi Green Energy, a Chinese solar panel company that is known to use forced labor. Last week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized products being imported from the company under a “Withhold Release Order” which is “‘intended to prevent merchandise produced in whole or in part in a foreign country using forced labor from being imported into the United States,’ according to the CBP website.”
According to the Washington Free Beacon, “The news could raise additional concerns about the Kerry family’s investment in Hillhouse China Value Fund L.P., which the climate envoy disclosed at the beginning of the year. Although Kerry divested from many of his energy-related holdings in March, the list of divestments did not include Hillhouse, according to a disclosure Kerry filed in March with the Office of Government Ethics. The investment has drawn scrutiny from Republican lawmakers and China experts, who accuse Kerry of downplaying and enabling China’s human rights abuses while trying to win concessions from Beijing on climate change.”
Kerry even critiqued lawmakers for punishing Chinese solar panel companies. Free Beacon quoted Kerry saying, “‘On the one hand, we’re saying to [China], ‘You have to do more to help deal with the climate.’ And on the other hand, their solar panels are being sanctioned which makes it harder for them to sell them.’’’ Sympathetic to the Chinese companies, Kerry appears to find forced labor and the persecution of the Uyghur population insignificant when climate change is such a dangerous threat to life.
Still, LONGi’s board of directors claimed that the Withhold Release Order “has not yet caused the company’s operations significant adverse effects.” However, the situation is being monitored in wake of the Biden administration’s ban on imports coming from China’s Xinjiang region where they are abusing human rights by using the forced labor of minority populations.
The situation surrounding China’s violation of human rights in relation to the Hillhouse investment group grows even more troubling. “The Hillhouse investment group, which is run by Zhang Lei, an adviser to the Chinese government, owns a 6 percent stake in LONGi. Hillhouse is also a top shareholder of YITU Technology, a company that was blacklisted by the U.S. Department of Commerce for allegedly aiding the Chinese government’s surveillance of Uyghurs.”
With the news, and history, of such labor and human rights abuses in China, the Biden administration is being pressed to place penalties on these companies by lobbyists. The American Solar Manufacturers Against Chinese Circumvention (ASMACC) has been “lobbying the Biden administration to investigate the supply chain of LONGi specifically, and other Chinese solar panel companies linked to forced labor, and to impose additional tariffs on those goods.”
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Kamala Harris Loses Two More Staffers
Two more staffers are reportedly leaving their jobs in Vice President Kamala Harris’ office, according to the Washington Post. The news comes just after Harris’ chief spokeswoman, Symone Sanders, announced her departure.
“Symone Sanders, the senior adviser and chief spokesperson for Vice President Kamala Harris, is expected to leave the White House at the end of the year, according to five administration officials familiar with the matter,” Politico reported.
In addition to Sanders, “Peter Velz, director of press operations, and Vince Evans, deputy director of the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs in the vice president’s office, have also told others in the vice president’s office that they are leaving, according to two administration officials,” the Washington Post reported.
Earlier this week, Sanders officially announced her departure in a note to the Vice President’s team.
“I’m so grateful to the VP for her vote of confidence from the very beginning and the opportunity to see what can be unburdened by what has been. I’m grateful for [Harris chief of staff] Tina [Flournoy] and her leadership and her confidence as well,” Sanders wrote. “Every day, I arrived to the White House complex knowing our work made a tangible difference for Americans. I am immensely grateful and will miss working for her and with all of you.”
The news comes just weeks after Harris’ communications director Ashley Etienne filed her resignation.
“Ashley is a valued member of the vice president’s team, who has worked tirelessly to advance the goals of this administration,” a White House official stated. “She is leaving the office in December to pursue other opportunities.”
“Harris’ office has been beset by disorder, bad press, and, at times, internal frictions,” Politico reported, adding, “ … in recent weeks, chatter has grown increasingly loud that Harris wasn’t positioned well to be Biden’s heir apparent in 2028 or, if he opts not to run again, in 2024.”
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