Volkswagen in Ürümqi in the Xinjiang region: pressure will increase
After the chemical company BASF announced that it would withdraw from the Chinese region of Xinjiang, German politicians from the SPD, Greens and FDP appealed to Volkswagen to do the same. "Xinjiang must become a 'no-go' as a location for economic activities for Western companies, including VW," said Renata Alt (FDP), chairwoman of the Bundestag's Human Rights Committee, to the "Tagesspiegel".
BASF's withdrawal sends a clear signal, Alt continued: "No lazy compromises should be made when it comes to human rights." BASF's decision to divest itself of shares in joint ventures in Xinjiang is therefore very welcome.
The Green MEP Reinhard Bütikofer told the Tagesspiegel that the pressure on VW would now increase again. “VW has to leave Xinjiang,” he explained. There is an ethical red line for the business ability of companies; “Complicity with the forced labor regime in Xinjiang” lies behind it.
According to the Tagesspiegel, the Federal Government Commissioner for Freedom of Religion and Belief, Frank Schwabe, called on all German companies not to do any further business in Xinjiang. »Basically, the human rights situation in Xinjiang is so catastrophic and confusing that German companies should not operate there. That also applies to VW,” the SPD politician told the paper.
The BASF Group announced on Friday that it would sell shares in the two joint ventures in Korla, China, in the center of the Xinjiang region, citing recent reports of possible human rights violations.
SPIEGEL and ZDF reported last week on questionable activities by the BASF Group in Xinjiang, northwest China. The Chinese company Xinjiang Markor Chemical Industry, with which BASF produces jointly in the city of Korla, is significantly more involved in the system of oppression against the Muslim Uighur minority than previously known. Markor employees apparently helped spy on Uyghurs, and the company reported openly about this on its website.
VW operates a plant in Xinjiang in a joint venture with the Chinese manufacturer Saic. In the summer, the car company commissioned a company to examine the working conditions at the controversial plant in Xinjiang for human rights violations. The auditors announced in December that they had found no evidence or evidence of forced labor among employees. Most recently, at the beginning of February, Volkswagen said that it was taking its responsibility as a company in the area of human rights very seriously worldwide - including in China. The UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights are adhered to closely.
Uighurs, members of other minorities and human rights organizations have been reporting for years that hundreds of thousands of people in Xinjiang have been put into re-education camps against their will, in some cases tortured and forced into forced labor. The Chinese government denies these allegations.