Tesla has opened a brand new gross sales and repair middle in the Xinjiang area of China, residence to a Muslim inhabitants often known as the Uyghurs whom the United Nations and rights organizations have recognized as a repressed ethnic group.
In 2021, the United States, United Kingdom and Canada stated China engages in “forced labour, mass detention in internment camps, forced sterilisations” and different abuses towards Uyghurs. Separately, the EU imposed sanctions on China for “arbitrary detentions” of Uyghurs.
China has repeatedly dismissed these claims as “lies and disinformation.”
Tesla introduced the transfer final week on Weibo, a well-liked social media platform in the nation. The Wall Street Journal previously reported on Tesla’s transfer into Xinjiang.
A Dec. 31 submit on Tesla’s Weibo account which was translated by CNBC stated: “The Urumqi Tesla Center officially opens #inanewdirection… As the first Tesla Center in Xinjiang, this location integrates sales, service and delivery. It will help Xinjiang users enjoy the experience of one-stop service, escorting Tesla car owners on their journey to the west.”
Another Weibo submit on that very same date stated: “#inanewdirection Urumqi Tesla Center has officially opened! On the last day of 2021 we meet in Xinjiang. In 2022, let’s begin Xinjiang’s journey to pure electric [vehicles]! Encounter even more beauty!”
The hashtag phrases comprised wordplay in Chinese. The character that spells “new” is contained in the primary half of the area’s title, Xinjiang.
Many social media customers in China expressed appreciation in response to Tesla’s posts. But the transfer elicited outrage in the West.
As NBC News previously reported in June 2021, Amnesty International researchers discovered that “Chinese authorities in the western region of Xinjiang have been rounding up women and men — largely Muslims from the Uighur, Kazakh and Kyrgyz ethnic minorities — and detaining them in camps designed to rid them of terrorist or extremist leanings since 2017.
“More than 1 million Uighurs and different minorities from Xinjiang are believed to be held in internment camps, the place they’re pressured to check Marxism, resign their faith, work in factories and face abuse, in accordance with human rights teams and first-hand accounts. Beijing says these ‘re-education camps’ present vocational coaching and are essential to combat extremism.”
In response, U.S. senators recently approved a bill banning imports from China’s Xinjiang region unless businesses can prove they were produced without forced labor.
The author of the bill, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), said of Tesla in a press statement, “Nationless firms are serving to the Chinese Communist Party cowl up genocide and slave labor in the area.”
Tesla did not respond to requests for comment. Tesla shares rose more than 13% on Monday after the company reported record vehicle deliveries for 2021.
Elon Musk’s electric vehicle company and his re-usable rocket company SpaceX have both faced scrutiny in China.
For example, China sent a complaint to the United Nations last year revealing that SpaceX satellites had nearly collided with China’s space station on two separate occasions in 2021.
With nearly 30,000 satellites and other debris believed to be orbiting the planet, scientists have urged governments to share data to reduce the risk of disastrous collisions. SpaceX has deployed nearly 1,900 satellites to serve its Starlink broadband network, and is planning to launch thousands more.
Before that, China mandated recalls of Tesla vehicles over quality defects, and the Chinese government restricted the use of Teslas by some state and military personnel citing security concerns.
But Tesla has also helped Beijing demonstrate that it is open to foreign businesses, and that a foreign company can thrive in its relatively closed market.
In 2019, when Musk broke ground on Tesla’s Shanghai factory, the CEO said, “Somebody who joins right this moment as a junior engineer in Tesla China may someday be CEO of Tesla worldwide…They may have my job someday perhaps.”
In July 2020, Musk posted on Twitter that “China rocks” while the U.S. is full of “complacency and entitlement.”