The Wall Street Journal reported that Tesla, a prominent American electric car manufacturer, has opened a new showroom in Xinjiang, China. China has imposed forced assimilation measures against religious minorities in Xinjiang, and many Western brands have been cautious about related issues.
On December 31, Tesla Inc., headquartered in Austin, Texas, announced on its official Weibo account that the new showroom is located in Urumqi, Xinjiang, and has begun operations.
Tesla said in the article: “We will meet in Xinjiang on the last day of 2021. Let us start a journey of pure electric power in Xinjiang in 2022!” People took a group photo with placards that read “Tesla loves Xinjiang” and “Made in China Model 3”.
It was the New Year’s Day holiday, and the reporter was temporarily unable to contact Tesla’s spokesperson in China.
Tesla is widely acclaimed in China, and its business is rapidly expanding. Still, its recent expansion is likely to cause Tesla and other large U.S. companies such as Walmart Inc and Intel Corp to fall into controversy and public relations difficulties.
Researchers said Xinjiang authorities have detained up to 1 million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities in detention camps as part of the government’s assimilation campaign.
Researchers also believe that different practices of the assimilation campaign include large-scale surveillance, forced labor, and strict Birth control. The U.S. government and some members of Congress in Western countries have stated that these policies constitute genocide.
The Beijing government dismissed the allegations of genocide as fiction and claimed that the movement in Xinjiang was to prevent religious extremism and terrorism.
In December last year, U.S. President Biden signed into law a new regulation banning the import of most Xinjiang products, citing concerns that related products come from forced labor.
The White House also announced sanctions on several companies and individuals, claiming that these companies and individuals were involved in the Xinjiang assimilation movement.
For foreign companies doing business in China, the Xinjiang issue quickly became a test. Companies investing in Xinjiang may face regulatory problems and a frustrating reputation in the local market. In contrast, companies that avoid Xinjiang are likely to ignite the anger of the Chinese government and consumers.
The last U.S. company that encountered this political problem at the end of last year was the retail giant Walmart. The cause was that Chinese consumers posted on social media that Walmart had removed Xinjiang-based stores from its stores and wholesale chain “Sam’s Club.” product.
China’s disciplinary authorities condemned Walmart for being “stupid and short-sighted,” There have also been voices on the Internet for consumers to boycott Walmart. Walmart would not comment on this at this time.
Intel, which makes semiconductors, sent a letter asking suppliers to avoid sourcing products from Xinjiang, which caused a lot of criticism on the Internet. Intel finally apologized to Chinese consumers on December 23 last year.
On the other hand, the German Volkswagen AG’s decision to maintain the Urumqi plant has attracted criticism from parliamentarians and activists from other countries; Volkswagen insists on continuing to operate in Xinjiang, claiming that there is no forced labor in the local supply chain.
Tesla sells Model S and Model 3 electric vehicles in China, and sales are pretty good. Other Western companies face fierce domestic competition. Tesla signed an agreement to open a factory in Shanghai in 2018, becoming the first foreign automaker to build a wholly-owned production facility in China.
Last year, Tesla faced tightening regulations and negative publicity on handling some quality issues, but sales in China were not affected much.
On the 2nd of this month, Tesla said that the company would deliver more than 930,000 vehicles globally in 2021, an 87% increase over the previous year.
According to estimates by Credit Suisse, more than half of Tesla’s cars produced last year may have been made in Shanghai.
After Tesla opened a new showroom in Urumqi, the website showed that the company currently has stores in 30 regions and provinces in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau.
Tesla founder Elon Musk is famous in China for his savvy entrepreneurial acumen and unique style. He once praised the Chinese government’s efforts to deal with carbon emissions and stimulate the economy and predicted that China would become a Tesla, in the long run, the largest market.
However, on the same day that Tesla announced the opening of a new showroom in Urumqi, the Chinese market regulator said that Tesla would recall about 200,000 vehicles sold in China and produced between January 2015 and December 2020. vehicle.
The State Administration for Market Regulation of China stated that about 3/4 of these vehicles are manufactured locally, and the rest are imported Model S and Model 3. The recall is due to defective hood locks and rear-view cameras that may cause accidents.