In response to the chemical company’s decision to withdraw from the Xinjiang region, German politicians have urged Volkswagen to follow suit. Renata Alt, Chairwoman of the Human Rights Committee in the Bundestag, stated that Xinjiang should become a “no-go” as a location for economic activities for Western companies, including VW. She emphasized the importance of not making compromises when it comes to human rights.
The BASF Group has already divested itself of shares in joint ventures in Xinjiang due to reports of possible human rights violations. Green MEP Reinhard Bütikofer stated that the pressure on VW will increase and that there is an ethical red line for the business ability of companies. He asserted that “complicity with the forced labor regime in Xinjiang” lies behind this red line.
The Federal Government Commissioner for Freedom of Religion and Belief, Frank Schwabe, demanded that all German companies immediately halt any further business operations in Xinjiang. He asserted that the human rights situation in Xinjiang is catastrophic and confusing, and German companies should not operate there.
Volkswagen operates a plant in Xinjiang in a joint venture with the Chinese manufacturer Saic, and their decision to continue operating in Xinjiang has been met with scrutiny. Despite issuing a commission to examine the working conditions at the plant in Xinjiang, VW insists that it takes 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 by the company.
Reports from Uighurs, members of other minorities, and human rights organizations have revealed that hundreds of thousands of people in Xinjiang have been forced into re-education camps, tortured, and subjected to forced labor. Meanwhile, the Chinese government denies these allegations.