Allegations of forced labor at Volkswagen’s car plant in China’s Xinjiang region are untrue, the German car manufacturer’s CEO in China told the BBC on Thursday.
Human rights organizations have accused Communist Party officials in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region of detaining one to three million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in detention camps built since at least 2017, citing eyewitness testimony, leaked documents, and satellite imagery. Testimonies by people who say they survived the camps include allegations of extensive human rights abuses including slave labor, physical and sexual abuse, and forced Communist Party indoctrination.
Mounting evidence of forced labor practices in Xinjiang factories associated with the detention facilities has led some major multinational brands, including Swedish clothing giant H&M in September, to cut ties with the region.
Volkswagen opened a factory in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, in 2013 where it currently employs 600 workers and produces up to 20,000 vehicles per year.