Elon Musk-run Tesla has opened a showroom in China’s Xinjiang region, criticized globally for serious human rights violations of the Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic and religious minority groups.
On New Year’s Eve, Tesla opened a new showroom in Xinjiang, the remote region where “Chinese authorities are carrying out a campaign of forcible assimilation against religious minorities that has become a public-relations quagmire for Western brands”, The Wall Street Journal reported late on Monday.
Tesla revealed the details on its official account on the Chinese social media platform Weibo, which is a Twitter-like platform.
The move by Tesla comes at a time when US President Joe Biden in December 2021, signed into law a bill that aims to punish China for human rights abuses against ethnic and religious minorities, including the Uyghurs, in the Xinjiang region.
According to reports, the bipartisan legislation passed the Senate by unanimous consent last week, bans imports of goods from the Xinjiang region unless individuals or companies demonstrate that the materials were made without forced labor.
The bill, called the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, is the latest effort by the US to punish China for the alleged abuse of millions of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.
The US has repeatedly accused China of committing genocide against Uyghurs.
Several Chinese tech companies have also been linked with domestic spying in the Xinjiang region.
Chinese tech conglomerate Huawei has reportedly been linked to domestic spying in the Xinjiang region while building technology for labor and re-education camps as well as surveillance systems in the western Chinese region largely populated by Uyghur Muslims.
According to PowerPoint presentations obtained by The Washington Post, the tech giant’s work may have been involved in the “persecution against ethnic minorities in the region”.
However, the presentations for Huawei’s work on surveillance systems do not mention Uyghurs, and the company has denied directly supplying the tech to Xinjiang.
In Xinjiang, up to two million people from Uyghur and other ethnic Muslim minorities have allegedly been put into internment camps, according to the US State Department.
The Chinese government has been accused of carrying out several human rights violations against the Uyghurs, putting them in detention and re-education camps, and using them for forced labor.
The US Treasury said that Chinese AI company SenseTime has been sanctioned because of the role its technology plays in enabling human rights abuses against the Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang – accusations that SenseTime has strongly denied.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has mounted multifaceted and multiplatform information campaigns to deny accusations of forced labor, mass detention, surveillance, sterilization, cultural erasure, and alleged genocide in the Xinjiang region.