Tesla criticized for opening showroom in Xinjiang, China

Tesla’s announcement that it has opened a showroom in Xinjiang has attracted criticism from US rights and trade groups, making it the latest foreign firm embroiled in tensions related to the far-western Chinese region.

Xinjiang has become a hotbed of conflict between Western governments and China in recent years, as UN experts and rights groups estimate that more than one million people, mainly Uighurs and members of other Muslim minorities, live there. detained in the camps.

China has denied allegations of forced labor or any other abuse there, saying the camps provide vocational training and that companies should respect their policies there.

The American electric carmaker on its official Weibo account last Friday announced the opening of a showroom in Xinjiang’s regional capital, Urumqi. “We meet in Xinjiang on the last day of 2021,” it said in the post.

On Tuesday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the largest US Muslim advocacy organization, criticized the move, saying Tesla was “supporting genocide”.

The United States has characterized China’s treatment of ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang as genocide. The United States and some other countries plan a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February over the issue.

“Elon Musk should close Tesla’s Xinjiang showroom,” the Council on American-Islamic Relations said on its official Twitter account, referring to the Tesla founder.

Similar criticism came from a US trade group, the Alliance for American Manufacturing, and US Senator Marco Rubio.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The carmaker operates a factory in Shanghai and is ramping up production there amid rising sales in China.

Tensions between the West and China over Xinjiang have engulfed many foreign firms in recent months, as they attempt to balance Western pressure with China’s importance as a market and supply base.

In July, Swedish fashion retailer H&M reported a 23 percent drop in sales of the local currency in China in the March-May quarter after consumer boycotts in March publicly stated that it did not source products from Xinjiang.

Last month, US chipmaker Intel faced similar calls after asking its suppliers not to source products or labor from Xinjiang, thereby apologizing for “the inconvenience caused to our esteemed Chinese customers, partners and the public”. inspired to.

While some are trying to reduce their supply chain risks in the region, Washington in particular has banned imports such as Xinjiang cotton or blacklisted Chinese companies that they say have taken Beijing’s trade there. Supported the policy, many foreign brands operate stores there.

© Thomson Reuters 2022


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