Human rights criticism: VW defends engagement in Xinjiang

Volkswagen has defended its commitment in the Chinese region of Xinjiang, which is the focus of criticism for violations of human rights. In response to allegations of persecution and discrimination against the Uighur minority, China boss Stephan Wöllenstein told journalists in Shanghai on Sunday that the Group's code of conduct applies to the Volkswagen plant in Ürümqi, as it does to all other locations and its suppliers in China. "We cannot have a topic like forced labor, which is critically discussed, because we employ employees directly."

Furthermore, “diversity” will be implemented, which also concerns the employment of ethnic minorities “without any form of discrimination”, said Wöllenstein before the start of the auto show in Shanghai. He noted a "significant aggravation of the political climate" in the world. It is also a fact that China's reputation is suffering. "The fact that we will be critical of it at some point is certainly something that we cannot dismiss out of hand," said Wöllenstein. "We have made it clear that we must stand by our commitment in China as a whole, and we will also stand by our commitment in Xinjiang as long as we believe that it is economically feasible."

Human rights groups estimate that hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs have been sent to re-education camps in Xinjiang. China rejects the allegations and instead speaks of training centers. There are also increasing allegations of possible forced labor. Uyghurs are ethnically related to the Turks and feel oppressed by the ruling Han Chinese in Xinjiang. After they came to power in Beijing in 1949, the communists incorporated the former East Turkestan into the People's Republic. Beijing accuses Uighur groups of terrorism and separatism.