Tesla has come under fire for opening a new store in Xinjiang, China, where human rights organizations claim the Chinese government has imprisoned over 1 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in labor camps.
There has been a lot of pressure on China to address the issue in Xinjiang, both from Western governments and human rights groups, after U.N. experts and nongovernmental organizations have criticized China’s policy for years now.
The Chinese government has denied allegations of forced labor or abuse at the camps where Muslim minorities are sent. Instead, they argue that the facilities provide “vocational training.”
With no apparent resolution in sight, various organizations have called for a boycott of firms that conduct operations in the disputed territory. Volkswagen was recently under fire after it refused to pull out of the region but it is now Tesla that is under scrutiny.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the country’s largest Muslim advocacy organization, issued a statement to the media:
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on Elon Musk to close a recently-opened Tesla showroom in China’s Xinjiang region, where Chinese authorities are carrying out a campaign of genocide targeting the Uyghur Muslim minority.
The national communications director for CAIR’s Middle East office, Ibrahim Hooper, remarked in a statement that Tesla’s new store “amounts to economic support for genocide.”
No American corporation should be doing business in a region that is the focal point of a campaign of genocide targeting a religious and ethnic minority. Elon Musk and Tesla must close this new showroom and cease what amounts to economic support for genocide.
The treatment of the Uyghur minority in China has been called a “genocide” by US authorities.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations is currently involved in a number of anti-boycott campaigns, including one against Hilton properties for constructing a hotel on the site of a mosque that was destroyed in the area.
Tesla has incurred the ire of several politicians and human rights organizations over the past year, including US Senator Marco Rubio. They see Tesla’s opening of a store as evidence that it is taking a side on the issue:
Right after President Biden signed Sen. Rubio’s Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act into law, @Tesla opened a store in #Xinjiang. Nationless corporations are helping the Chinese Communist Party cover up genocide and slave labor in the region. https://t.co/2yWBTQSLbM
— Senator Rubio Press (@SenRubioPress) January 3, 2022
Tesla doesn’t have a public relations department anymore, but it does in China but the automaker has yet to offer an explanation for its Xinjiang store’s opening.
Chinese State run media have added this:
The quality of Chinese electric cars is also very good, and Tesla is not the only game in town. If Rubio and other Americans want Tesla to lose profits, China is not the one that will hurt most: Global Times Commentator Hu Xijin #HuSays pic.twitter.com/pHmFeAkZyx
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) January 4, 2022