California- Governor Newsom made a deal with failing Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer to produce $1 billion worth of face masks for the state.
Administration officials have declined to tell anyone, including members of the Legislature, exactly how much each mask is costing the state.
The first order of 3 million masks arrived in California earlier this week. (California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services)
BYD, “Build Your Dreams: Official sponsor of Mother Nature, ” a Chinese electric vehicle company with a facility in LA County was granted the generous funding from Newsom sometime in April, after the company declared poor earnings in late March.
In two separate public hearings, Democratic and Republican lawmakers have criticized the secrecy surrounding the BYD contract. The same night that Newsom touted the deal on national television, administration officials asked the Legislature’s joint budget committee for permission to waive an existing 72-hour rule to spend $495 million for a first installment on the purchase. On Monday, officials told lawmakers a $104.7-million payment was due — bringing the total paid to BYD’s healthcare supply subsidiary to $599.7 million.
BYD launched its effort to enter the protective mask-making business in March. Though the products are being made in China, the partnership with the state involves the company’s California subsidiary — the operator of a vehicle assembly plant in Lancaster that was awarded a $3-million state tax credit in 2015.
Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer BYD, which is producing medical masks for California, is suing VICE News over an article that alleged the company used “forced Uighur labor” in its supply chains.
The complaint, filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, claims that VICE “published at least two grossly defamatory statements of and concerning BYD that have caused substantial harm.”
BYD, which is backed by American billionaire Warren Buffett, received a $1 billion contract from California Gov. Gavin Newsom to provide 500 million medical masks to the state over two and a half months. The company’s press release on the lawsuit noted its deal with California.