SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Electric car maker Tesla has been criticized by US human rights groups and trade groups for opening a showroom in China’s Xinjiang region. Billionaire Elon Musk’s group seems to be embroiled in political tensions between Washington and Beijing.
Xinjiang has become the focal point of the conflict between Western governments and China in recent years. According to UN experts and human rights groups, more than a million people, mostly Uighurs and other Muslim minorities, are being held in camps in the region. Washington accuses China of genocide against Uyghur Muslim minorities.
US President Joe Biden signed a law on December 23 banning imports from Xinjiang. The law now requires companies to clearly prove that the products they receive from the region are not made by forced labor. The United States and some other countries have announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics.
China denies allegations of forced labor or other abuses in the region and says the camps provide vocational training and that companies must respect their policies.
Tesla announced last Friday through its official account on the Chinese social media site Weibo that it will open its showroom in Urumqi, the regional capital of Xinjiang. On Tuesday, the U.S.-Islamic Relations Council, the largest U.S. civil rights and advocacy group for Muslims, criticized the move, saying Tesla “supports genocide” and that the company should close its showroom.
Similar criticisms came from the US trade group Alliance for American Manufacturing and US Senator Marco Rubio, author of Xinjiang’s law banning products. Commenting on Tesla’s showroom opening, Rubio said, “NGOs are helping the Chinese Communist Party cover up the genocide and slave labor in the region.”
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