Tesla opened its Xinjiang showroom recently. The move comes off as surprising, as many Western brands are avoiding the Chinese province due to allegations of human rights abuses and forced labor.
However, the US electric vehicle manufacturer did not seem fazed with the allegations and proceeded to launch its newest branch in China.
Tesla Opens Xinjiang Showroom
In a December 31 post made on China’s popular social media Weibo, Tesla announced the Xinjiang showroom’s opening. “On the last day of 2021, we meet in Xinjiang.
In 2022, let us together launch Xinjiang on its electric journey!” Tesla posted on its official account. The announcement came with pictures from the Xinjiang showroom opening.
This included traditional launch activities such as Chinese lion dances. It also included pictures of people waving placards that read “Tesla (Heart) Xinjiang.”
China is the electric vehicle company’s major market outside the US. The popularity of its electric cars fueled Tesla’s rise as the world’s most valuable automaker in terms of market cap.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk, a controversial figure himself, is popular in China as well. Musk often lavishes praise on China’s programs to support its economy. He also said that Tesla will continue investing in the country.
Xinjiang Region Is A Manufacturing Hotbed Due to Forced Labor Allegations
Xinjiang is one of China’s major manufacturing hubs. However, it is also home to a number of religious minorities.
Human rights reports allege that the Beijing government has been carrying out an assimilation campaign against these minority groups.
In particular, Uyghur Muslims are among those allegedly targeted for assimilation. Reportedly, Xinjiang region authorities in Xinjiang are keeping a million Uyghurs and other minorities in prison camps.
The assimilation program also allegedly includes mass surveillance, forced labor, and strict birth control measures.
The US, along with other Western nations, have likened China’s moves against its minorities as some form of genocide.
The opening of the Xinjiang showroom will test Tesla’s reputation on the global PR front. On one side is the world’s most populous nation with a very large market.
On the other are Western consumers who prefer dealing with companies that bend over backward for China. The US already bans imports that come from Xinjiang suppliers.
Companies such as Intel and Walmart faced backlash from Chinese social media users over their directives to not source anything from the region.
Beijing Dismisses Genocide Allegations
Meanwhile, China dismissed all allegations of assimilation and genocide. It defended its actions in Xinjiang as a novel way to combat local terrorism and religious extremism.
However, many US politicians, including President Joe Biden, continue to warn companies from dealing with Xinjiang suppliers.
Last month, Biden issued new rules officially banning most imports from Xinjian over forced labor concerns. The White House also said that they will sanction all companies that participate in the assimilation program conducted in the region.
Meanwhile, the Council on American-Islamic Relations urged Tesla to consider shuttering its Xinjiang showroom.
The CAIR is known for criticizing Western firms conducting business in the hotbed region. “No American corporation should be doing business in a region that is the focal point of a campaign of genocide targeting a religious and ethnic minority,” it said.
Xinjiang is the Litmus Test for Companies
Xinjiang has quickly become a litmus test for foreign companies doing business in China. Those who embrace the region risk regulatory trouble and reputational blowback in their home markets, while those who shun it face the wrath of China’s government and increasingly nationalistic consumers.
Among the multinationals, Walmart drew the ire of fiercely protective Chinese social media users. They accused the supermarket chain of singling out Xinjiang-made products and removing them from Sam’s Club shelves.
Watch the LIVE UPDATE video reporting that critics slam Tesla for opening Xinjiang showroom:
What do you think about Tesla’s move to open a showroom in Xinjiang province? Is this a slap in the face for activists and politicians out to sanction the region for supporting forced labor?
Or, is this yet another savvy move by Elon Musk to fill a market nobody dares to touch?
Tell us what you think. Share your thoughts below.
- U.S. Employment Costs Surge
- UAW Strike to End Following Tentative Deal with General Motors
- Prices for Goods and Services Increase Beyond Expectations
- GDP Soars 4.7% Thanks to Rise in Consumer Spending
- New Home Sales in the U.S. Rise Amid Skyrocketing Interest Rates
- Reports: X/Twitter Shrinking Worsens Following Rebranding
- Reports: Amazon Testing Humanoid Robots for Warehouse Operations
- Elon Musk’s X/Twitter Announces Subscription Tiers