Tesla opened a store in Xinjiang, where China is accused of persecuting religious minorities.Firms have to juggle China’s demands with human-rights concerns and US laws to operate there.China is a key driver of Tesla’s growth, and the company opened a factory there in 2020.Get the latest tech trends & innovations — delivered daily to your inbox.Tesla already has about 30 stores spread throughout mainland China, but it’s the newest one that’s notable.
The electric-vehicle giant opened a showroom in Xinjiang.China is accused of orchestrating a genocide of the Uyghur Muslim minority through internment camps, sterilization, and assimilation in the region.
Tesla announced the new store on the microblogging site Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, on December 31, The Wall Street Journal first reported.The announcement came soon after President Joe Biden signed a bill into law that prohibits imports from the Xinjiang region because of concerns of forced labor.The new Tesla store is set to feature sales and delivery services.
“In 2022, let us together launch Xinjiang on its electric journey!” the post said, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The post also included a photo of people holding signs that said, “Tesla (heart) Xinjiang.”
Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.Sales in China have been a key component of the company’s growth in recent years, and its first factory there, in Shanghai, opened in 2020.
Human Rights Watch estimated that China was persecuting 1 million Uyghur Muslims in what the organization called “crimes against humanity.” Chinese authorities have detained people in internment camps, forcing them to abandon their culture for Chinese customs, such as learning Mandarin.Some prisoners have described rape, medical experiments, and forced sterilizations.
Insider recently published a first-person account of a mother of three from Ürümqi, Xinjiang’s capital, where Tesla opened the new showroom.She said she was forcibly taken from her family to a detention center, beaten, and later sterilized before fleeing the country for the US.
China has denied the accusations of genocide, saying the camps are for “reeducation” and calling Uyghur Muslims terrorists and religious extremists.
Still, the international backlash has created problems for US companies across a variety of sectors.
Walmart, Google, and most notably, Apple have grappled with how to operate in the lucrative market while juggling the Communist Party’s wishes and human-rights concerns.
China is one of Apple’s most important markets, and the tech giant relies heavily on suppliers in the country to assemble its wildly popular products.But a March 2020 report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute found connections between Apple’s suppliers in China and forced Uyghur labor.
And a May report from The Information found that seven Apple suppliers in China had links to forced-labor programs, including the use of Uyghur Muslims from the Xinjiang region.
Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, said in November that Apple had a “responsibility” to do business everywhere, including in China.
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