Haley facing heat for bringing Chinese company to South Carolina, standing next to CCP flag praising them

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Former United Nations Ambassador and 2024 presidential candidate Nikki Haley is facing heat, most recently at the last GOP primary debate, for working to recruit a Chinese-owned company to South Carolina while she was governor and giving a warm speech about the company while standing next to a Chinese flag.

“This is rich because when she was governor of South Carolina, she was the number one ranked governor of bringing the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] into her state,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said on the debate stage last week. “She wrote a love letter to the Chinese ambassador saying how great a friend China is.”

“There’s also a video of her as governor standing in front of a Chinese flag with a Chinese business saying that she now works for them, talking about this Chinese company. So, she’s been very weak on China.”

The company DeSantis was referencing was Bluestar Silicones, which acquired 20 acres of land in York County, South Carolina after receiving $600,000 in incentives from the county and state, The Herald reported in 2011.

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Nikki Haley in 2012 (South Carolina Electronic Records Archives/2012)

The Herald also reported that Haley was instrumental in bringing the company to South Carolina and got on the phone to encourage the company’s CEO, Pascal Chalvon-Demersay, to come to South Carolina instead of an explored move to North Carolina. 

“I don’t lose well,” Haley reportedly said at the time, with The Herald adding that her “charm” was an important aspect of getting the deal done and bringing the jobs to her state.

The Herald reported that the deal came down to more than just dollars but hinged on a commitment from Haley’s state to “making things happen in the future” and Haley reportedly gave Bluestar leadership her personal cell phone number and said, “I want them to call.” 

In order to get the move finalized, officials at the South Carolina Economic Development office matched the incentive dollar amount that North Carolina was offering and the county also provided property tax relief that cut the company’s tax bill by around 45%, Charlotte Business Journal reported

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In July 2017, Bluestar Silicones was renamed Elkem Silicones which is a subsidiary of China’s state-owned Sinochem Holdings Corp as two Chinese entities were integrated.

In 2020, the State Department deemed Sinochem and several other Chinese entities as owned or controlled by the Chinese military.

On the campaign trail, the GOP presidential candidates have attacked each other on previous ties to China and attempted to position themselves as leaders who will be tough on the communist regime.

Haley has faced heat from her opponents for recruiting Chinese businesses as governor and Never Back Down, the main super PAC supporting DeSantis, went after her on social media recently for saying during a meeting with Bluestar, “I officially work for you.” 

Haley and DeSantis

Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, left, and Florida Gov. DeSantis, right, have clashed multiple times on who has been tougher on China. (Getty Images)

In 2016, Haley praised a $300 million investment in Richland County, South Carolina, by the Chinese fiberglass manufacturer China Jushi Co. Ltd., which cited “great support” from the state government for doing so.

“The USA project is a big move for the strategic development of China Jushi. With the dynamic development of the American composite global market, plus the great support from South Carolina state government and Richland County, we believe that this USA project will achieve great success,” China Jushi CEO Zhang Yuqiang said in a statement at the time, according to China Daily USA.

Haley characterized the Chinese company’s investment in South Carolina as a “huge win for our state.”

Critics have pointed to the fact that China Jusi’s facilities are located near a U.S. Army base, raising concerns about a Chinese company’s presence near a military installation.

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Nikki Haley in Milwaukee

Former U.N. Ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley  (Joseph A. Wulfsohn/Fox News Digital)

South Carolina Gov. Harry McMaster, who has endorsed former President Trump, recently said that Jushi has not caused any issues since moving near the plant, although the company has been fined for environmental violations, The State reported. 

“As far as anybody knows, they’ve caused no trouble and pose no threat,” McMaster told reporters. “But again, we got companies from all over the world people coming in South Carolina from all over the place, but this issue we’ve been aware of the potential threat. We’ve been very careful.”

Bluestar’s 20 acre property is also located roughly 10 miles from a National Guard training center.

Haley and her team have defended her record on China multiple times and have said that DeSantis “aggressively recruited Chinese companies to Florida including a sanctioned Chinese military manufacturer.”

On the campaign trail, Haley has spotlighted that she would rescind federal funding for universities that accept money from China, take back land in the U.S. that China’s already purchased, and end “all normal trade relations with” China until it stops flooding the U.S. with fentanyl.

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biden, xi jinping

US President Joe Biden (R) and Chinese President Xi Jinping walk together after a meeting during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ week in Woodside, California on November 15, 2023. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

“Every governor running for president tried to recruit Chinese businesses to their state. Nikki Haley did it ten years ago,” Haley spokesperson Ken Farnaso told Fox News Digital in a statement. “Ron DeSantis aggressively recruited Chinese companies and gave hundreds of thousands of dollars in subsidies to Jinko Solar, a Chinese company raided by the Department of Homeland Security. Ron DeSantis is a hypocritical phony who will say anything to try and save his flailing campaign.”

Fox News Digital’s Kyle Morris and Brianna Herlihy contributed to this report

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