SHANGHAI — Tesla’s announcement that it has opened a showroom in Xinjiang has attracted criticism from U.S. rights and trade groups, making it the latest foreign company caught up in tensions related to the far-western Chinese region.
Xinjiang has become a significant point of conflict between Western governments and China in recent years, as U.N. experts and rights groups estimate more than a million people, mainly Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minorities, have been detained in camps there.
China has rejected accusations of forced labor or any other abuses there, saying that the camps provide vocational training and that companies should respect its policies there.
The U.S. electric carmaker announced the showroom’s opening in Xinjiang’s regional capital, Urumqi, on its official Weibo account last Friday. “On the last day of 2021 we meet in Xinjiang,” it said in the post.
On Tuesday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the largest U.S. Muslim advocacy organization, criticized the move, saying that Tesla was “supporting genocide.”
The United States has labeled as genocide China’s treatment of ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang. The United States and a few other countries plan a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February over the issue.
“Elon Musk must close Tesla’s Xinjiang showroom,” the Council on American-Islamic Relations said on its official Twitter account, referring to Tesla’s founder.
Similar criticism came from a U.S. trade group, the Alliance for American Manufacturing, and U.S. senator Marco Rubio.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The carmaker operates a factory in Shanghai and is ramping up production there amid surging sales in China.