Elon Musk’s Tesla company opened its first showroom in the capital of China’s Xinjiang region despite allegations that it is a site of genocide targeting Uyghur populations.
While the electric vehicle company already has 27 stores in mainland China, Tesla announced its most highly criticized and latest store in the Ürümqi’s Uyghur Autonomous Region on Weibo on Dec. 31. Musk’s announcement came after President Joe Biden signed into law a bill banning imports from the Xinjiang region due to concerns over human rights abuses and forced labor, reported The Wall Street Journal.
“On the last day of 2021, we meet in Xinjiang. In 2022, let us together launch Xinjiang on its electric journey!” Tesla’s announcement read, which included photos of people holding placards that read, “Tesla (heart) Xinjiang.”
The Chinese state has been accused of the cultural genocide against the Uyghur Muslim population and the human rights abuses in Chinese detainment camps in the Xinjiang region. However, China has denied the accusations and claimed it uses educational centers for “religious extremists” and “terrorists.”
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The Tesla store, which holds a 5,315 square feet space, includes both sales and delivery services. According to Tesla North, the company has seven Supercharger stations and 36 Superchargers across the Xinjiang region.
Tesla’s sales in China contributed a great deal to the company’s growth in recent years along with the opening of the Tesla Shanghai factory in 2018.
U.S. companies such as Google, Apple and Walmart previously received backlash for allegedly taking advantage of Chinese forced labor. They struggle with meeting the Communist Party’s wishes while dealing with human rights concerns. Journalist Liza Lin took to Twitter to share her article.
“First it was Intel, then Walmart got entangled. Could Tesla be next? The electric carmaker chooses New Year Eve to open its latest dealership in Xinjiang, a region that has become a litmus test for foreign companies operating in China,” she wrote.
Simon Adams, CEO of Center for Victims of Torture, also shared the article with the caption: “#Xinjiang is notorious for its reeducation camps, forced labour & ongoing persecution of #Uyghurs. But where most people see a liability, Elon Musk sees an opportunity.”