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Tesla opens showroom in China’s Xinjiang region despite genocide allegations

Elon Musk’s Tesla recently opened a showroom in China’s Xinjiang province, the same region where the Chinese government stands accused of human rights abuses against the Uyghur Muslims and other religious minority groups, according to reports Monday. The electric car firm reportedly announced the opening in a Dec. 31 blog post on its official account on Weibo, a social media platform in China similar to Twitter. The showroom is located in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. “On the last day of 2021, we meet in Xinjiang. In 2022, let us launch Xinjiang on its electric journey together,” Tesla’s post on Weibo said. The announcement included photos from an opening ceremony at the showroom, the Wall Street Journal reported. The post includes images of people posing with signs that read, “Tesla [heart] Xinjiang. Tesla did not immediately return the Post’s request for comment on the showroom opening. The showroom opening occurred amid mounting criticism regarding the Chinese government’s activities in Xinjiang. Human rights activists have accused Beijing authorities of various abuses toward ethnic and religious minority groups, including the establishment of internment camps and forced labor. The Biden administration has referred to China’s actions as a genocide. The Chinese government has denied wrongdoing. The opening is a potential PR risk for Tesla. US-based corporations have struggled to operate in China amid scrutiny from American lawmakers over human rights concerns as well as pressure from officials in Beijing. Last month, Congress passed the bipartisan Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. The legislation bans product imports from the Xinjiang region unless businesses can prove they were not made with forced labor. China slammed the law, arguing the import ban “seriously violates international law and basic norms governing international relations.” The Biden administration has also enacted a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing to protest the human rights abuses. American athletes are still expected to compete. Walmart has faced a social media backlash in China and criticism from Chinese government officials in recent days after the retail giant reportedly pulled products sourced from Xinjiang from local stores. The company has yet to publicly address the situation. In a separate incident last month, Intel issued an apology in China after it faced criticism for telling suppliers not to source products from Xinjiang.




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