Elon Musk: Tesla owner discusses his wealth and Warren Buffett
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The controversial announcement attracted criticism from US rights and trade groups, as well as Republican Senator Marco Rubio, making it the latest foreign firm caught up in tensions related to the far-western Chinese region. Xinjiang has become a significant point of conflict between Western governments and China in recent years, as UN experts and rights groups estimate more than a million people, mainly Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minorities, have been detained in camps there.
China rejects accusations of forced labour or any other abuses there, saying that the camps provide vocational training and that companies should respect its policies there.
The US electric car maker announced the showroom’s opening in Xinjiang’s regional capital, Urumqi, on its official Weibo account last Friday.
Its post explained: ”On the last day of 2021 we meet in Xinjiang.”
On Tuesday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the largest US Muslim advocacy organisation, criticised the move, saying that Tesla was “supporting genocide”.
The United States has previously labelled China’s treatment of ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang as genocide, defined by the Oxford English dictionary as “the deliberate killing of a large number of people from a particular nation or ethnic group with the aim of destroying that nation or group”.
The United States and a few other countries plan a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February over the issue.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations said on its official Twitter account, referring to Tesla’s founder, posted: “Elon Musk must close Tesla’s Xinjiang showroom.”
Mr Rubio tweeted: “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.”
Scott Paul, President of the Alliance for American Manufacturing Alliance for American Manufacturing, commented: “I’ll be blunt:
“Any company doing business in Xinjiang is complicit in the cultural genocide taking place there.
“But Tesla’s actions are especially despicable.”
The carmaker operates a factory in Shanghai and is ramping up production there amid surging sales in China.
A slew of foreign firms in recent months have been tripped up by tensions between the West and China over Xinjiang, as they try to balance Western pressure with China’s importance as a market and supply base.
In July, Swedish fashion retailer H&M reported a 23 percent drop in local currency sales in China for its March-May quarter after it was hit by a consumer boycott in March for stating publicly that it did not source products from Xinjiang.
Last month, US chipmaker Intel faced similar calls after telling its suppliers not to source products or labour from Xinjiang, prompting it to apologise for “the trouble caused to our respected Chinese customers, partners and the public”.
Some businesses have been trying to reduce their supply chain exposure to the region, especially as Washington bans imports such as Xinjiang cotton or blacklists Chinese companies that it says have aided Beijing’s policy there.
Nevertheless, many foreign brands operate stores there.
Express.co.uk has contacted Tesla for comment.
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