Politicians call on Volkswagen to withdraw from Xinjiang

As of: February 12, 2024 9:27 a.m

After the chemical company BASF announced that it would withdraw from Xinjiang, pressure is now growing on Volkswagen to do so. The reason is reports of human rights violations in the Chinese region.

Several politicians from the SPD, Greens and FDP have appealed to the Volkswagen Group to withdraw from the Chinese region of Xinjiang. “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.

This was preceded by the announcement by the chemical company BASF that it would withdraw from Xinjiang. Accordingly, shares in the two joint ventures in Korla, China, in the center of the Xinjiang region, are to be sold. In its corresponding statement, the company also referred to recent reports of possible human rights violations.

BASF’s withdrawal sends a clear signal, said Alt. “No lazy compromises should be made when it comes to human rights.” The chemical company’s decision to divest itself of its shares in joint ventures in Xinjiang is therefore very welcome.

“Clear ethical red line” for companies

The Green MEP Reinhard Bütikofer told the Tagesspiegel that the pressure on VW would now increase again. “VW must 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 this line.

According to 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. This also applies to VW,” the SPD politician told the newspaper.

Examiner: No evidence of forced labor

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.

Volkswagen recently said at the beginning of February 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 on 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.

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