China Urges Firms Not To Be 'Blinded By Lies' Over Xinjiang Rights Record - News18 | BetaVersa - BetaVersa
March 27, 2024

China Urges Firms Not To Be ‘Blinded By Lies’ Over Xinjiang Rights Record – News18 | BetaVersa

3 min read

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Published By: Sheen Kachroo

Last Updated: February 15, 2024, 18:26 IST

Xinjiang is home to numerous factories that supply multinational companies, including big-name Western brands.
(Getty)

Rights campaigners have for years accused Beijing of a crackdown against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, including through forced labour and detention camps

China on Thursday urged companies not to be “blinded by lies” about its rights record in Xinjiang, after German automaker Volkswagen said it was discussing the future of its activities in the troubled region.

Rights campaigners have for years accused Beijing of a crackdown against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, including through forced labour and detention camps.

Beijing denies allegations of abuse and insists its actions in Xinjiang have helped to combat extremism and enhance development.

Germany’s Handelsblatt financial daily reported this week that forced labour may have been used to build a test track for VW in Turpan, Xinjiang in 2019.

VW said Wednesday it had seen no evidence of human rights violations in connection with the project but vowed to investigate any new information that came to light.

In a statement sent to AFP, Beijing’s foreign ministry said allegations of abuses in the region were “entirely a lie concocted… with the aim of destabilising Xinjiang”.

It urged firms to “respect the facts, distinguish right from wrong, and not be blinded by lies”.

In an apparent sign of the growing pressure on VW over its presence in the region, the company said this week that it was in talks with its Chinese joint-venture partner SAIC “about the future direction of business activities in Xinjiang”.

“Various scenarios are currently being intensively examined,” VW said in a statement.

Beijing said Thursday that “the human rights of people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang are protected to the maximum extent”.

Claims of rights abuses in the northwestern region, it added, were aimed at “discrediting and suppressing China”.

“Xinjiang currently enjoys social stability, economic development, ethnic unity, and religious harmony,” the foreign ministry said.

Rights Concerns

Beijing stands accused of incarcerating over one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in a network of detention facilities across Xinjiang.

Campaigners and Uyghurs overseas have said an array of abuses take place inside the facilities, including torture, forced labour, forced sterilisation and political indoctrination.

A UN report in 2022 detailed “credible” evidence of torture, forced medical treatment and sexual or gender-based violence — as well as forced labour — in the region.

But it stopped short of labelling Beijing’s actions a “genocide”, as the United States and some Western lawmakers have done.

Calls have grown louder for VW to reconsider its business activities in Xinjiang after German chemicals giant BASF announced last week that it would accelerate its exit from two joint ventures there.

Xinjiang is home to numerous factories that supply multinational companies, including big-name Western brands.

VW has long come under scrutiny over its factory in the city of Urumqi, which opened in 2013 and in which it has a stake via its partner SAIC.

An external audit commissioned by VW last year found no evidence of forced labour among the plant’s 197 employees.

But the consultancy that wrote the report acknowledged “the challenges in collecting data” for audits in China.

The Turpan test track was not part of the audit.

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – AFP)

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