Tesla 'helping' Chinese govt cover up 'genocide' by opening showroom in Xinjiang: US Senator

Activists said that Elon Musk and Tesla executives need to consider human rights in Xinjiang.

Faris Alfiq | January 05, 2022, 02:24 PM

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American electric vehicle company, Tesla, was slammed by United States lawmakers and human rights activists for opening a showroom in Xinjiang, northwest China, Reuters reported.

The company announced its opening through a Chinese social media site, Weibo, on Dec. 31.

The post reads: "On the last day of 2021, we meet in Xinjiang. In 2022 let us together launch Xinjiang on its electric journey!"

According to Forbes, Tesla has more than two dozen stores and service centres across China, including Hong Kong and Macau.

The move to open a showroom in Xinjiang has met with criticisms.

Urged to shut down showroom

The Alliance for American Manufacturing described Tesla's decision to open a showroom in Xinjiang as "especially brazen", Forbes added.

In a statement, the non-profit partnership that includes leading manufacturers in the U.S. said, “The evidence is clear: China's government is undertaking a cultural genocide in Xinjiang. Anyone still doing business in the region is complicit."

Ibrahim Hooper, director of national communications of The Council on American-Islamic Relations, urged Tesla to shut down the showroom in Xinjiang and cease the "economic support for genocide", The Guardian reported.

Hooper added that there should not be a U.S. company doing business in a region "that is the focal point of a campaign of genocide targeting a religious and ethnic minority".

According to media reports, Tesla has yet to comment on the issue.

China refutes human rights abuse accusations

Researchers and reporters uncovered that as many as one million ethnic and religious communities, including Uyghurs, have been detained in internment camps in Xinjiang

China calls these camps "re-education" or "vocational training" centres

According to researchers, some of the detainees are also subjected to forced labour.

China has denied the accusations of human rights abuses in these places, saying they exist to fight extremism.

Tesla helping CCP cover up genocide

The U.S. has enforced sanctions and other measures against China over its human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

One of the measures includes restricting business dealings with local operators and suppliers, The Guardian further reported.

On Dec. 23, U.S. President Biden signed the Uyghur Forced Labour Prevention Act, which sought to prevent the import of goods made in Xinjiang under forced labour conditions.

In response to Tesla's new showroom in Xinjiang, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican who backed the Act, said in a tweet that Tesla's move is helping the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to cover up the genocide in the region.

According to Forbes, Sophie McNeill, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, said that Elon Musk and Tesla executives "need to consider human rights in Xinjiang or risk being complicit".

"Beijing and businesses have long banked on a global willingness to put profits ahead of human rights, even in the face of crimes against humanity, but we must not allow this to continue in 2022," McNeill added.

While there is bipartisan consensus in the U.S. that a genocide is taking place in Xinjiang, there are some detractors who disagree:

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Top image via Weibo & Bloomberg/Getty Images