Elon Musk’s Tesla has opened a new showroom for the company in China’s Xinjiang province, where Chinese authorities have committed years of gross human rights abuses against the Uyghur people.
Tesla’s decision to begin working in the region known for the vast human rights violations, repression, and assimilation has come under global criticism, putting both Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk under fire.
Tesla announced that the showroom was open in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, with a post on the Chinese version of Twitter “Weibo” on New Year’s Eve.
The United States recently enacted sanctions, regulations, and other measures against China for its continued human rights violations and abuses in Xinjiang. This includes restrictions on American business dealings with local suppliers and operators.
Only last month, President Joe Biden signed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. The U.S. also intends to boycott the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics due to human rights violations.
Human rights groups around the world immediately criticized Tesla for opening the showroom and called for its immediate closure. The Council on American-Islamic Relations said that this opening and business venture amounts to “economic support for genocide.”
Human Rights Watch researchers said that Beijing and business have for a long time banked on the global willingness to prioritize profits over human rights, and this has even meant turning blind eyes to crimes against humanity, but this cannot be allowed to continue in 2022.
Human Rights Watch’s Australia researcher, Sophie McNeill, said that Elon Musk and Tesla executives must consider human rights, or risk being complicit in the abuses in Xinjiang.
Xinjiang has long been a place of human rights abuses by the Chinese government, including a long campaign of forced assimilation against ethnic minorities, including the Uyghur people. At least one million people have been detained in both mass detention sites and reeducation sites.
The broader population in the province has been subject to mass suppression of both religious and cultural activity, and under intense surveillance and policing. The Chinese authorities have also been accused of forced labor programs and enforced birth control.
Many governments have declared the ongoing campaign by the Chinese authorities against Uyghurs as genocide. Human rights groups and legal groups have said that the actions by the Chinese government amount to crimes against humanity.