Tesla threatens to get caught up in the political tensions between the US and China over Xinjiang. More than a million people, mostly Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minorities, are being held in camps in the region, according to United Nations experts and human rights groups. Washington even accuses China of committing genocide against the Muslim Uyghur minority.
Tesla announced the opening of its showroom in Urumqi, the regional capital of Xinjiang, last Friday. On Tuesday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the largest American civil rights and Muslim advocacy group, criticized the move, saying that Tesla “supports genocide” and that the company should close its showroom.
‘Covering Genocide and Forced Labor’
Similar criticism was drawn from the US trade group Alliance for American Manufacturing and US Senator Marco Rubio, author of the Xinjiang Product Ban Act. Commenting on the opening of the Tesla showroom, Rubio stated that “non-sexual companies are helping the Chinese Communist Party cover up genocide and forced labor in the region.”
US President Joe Biden signed a law last month banning imports from Xinjiang over concerns about forced labor there. The law now requires companies to be able to prove that the products they get from the area are not made from forced labour. The United States and some other countries also announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February over the issue.
China rejects allegations of forced labor or other abuses in the region and says the camps offer vocational training and companies should respect their policies there.
Protest action at the car show
Tesla came under fire in China last year after an angry Tesla owner protested at an auto show. She stepped on a Tesla Model 3 and yelled “Tesla brakes didn’t work” before security guards took her away.
The woman said the Tesla Model 3’s brakes malfunctioned, nearly killing four members of her family. According to Tesla, the braking system is working properly.
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