Tesla Accused of 'Economic Support for Genocide' After Opening Showroom in Xinjiang

Activists are decrying a recent decision by Tesla to open a showroom in a Chinese city accused of human rights violations.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations urged Tesla and its chairman, Elon Musk, to close a newly opened showroom in the city of Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. The group urged the company to "cease what amounts to economic support for genocide" in a statement.

Xinjiang has been accused of violating the human rights of Uyghur Muslim citizens, including forcing them into labor camps. The state and the Chinese government as a whole have denied these allegations.

"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," said Ibrahim Hooper, the national communications director of CAIR.

Tesla, which has a large customer base in China, is the latest company to be under fire for ignoring alleged human rights violations for profit. Intel recently apologized to the country for calling on suppliers to steer clear of products or services from the Xinjiang region, the BBC reported.

"We apologize for the trouble caused to our respected Chinese customers, partners and the public," wrote the computer company in a statement last month. "Intel is committed to becoming a trusted technology partner to accelerate joint development with China."

Tesla and Musk have not yet commented on CAIR's statement.

Tesla Logo in China
A Tesla logo is seen on a Tesla car Model 3, inside of a Tesla shop inside of a shopping Mall in Beijing on May 26, 2021. Tesla is being accused of supporting alleged human rights violations in the Xinjiang region after opening a showroom in its capital. Photo by Nicolas Asfouri/AFP via Getty Images

Pressure on foreign companies to take positions on Xinjiang, Tibet, Taiwan and other politically charged issues has been rising. The ruling Communist Party pushes companies to adopt its positions in their advertising and on websites. It has attacked clothing and other brands that express concern about reports of forced labor and other abuses in Xinjiang.

Activists and foreign governments say some 1 million Uyghurs and members of other mostly Muslim minorities have been confined in detention camps in Xinjiang. Chinese officials reject accusations of abuses and say the camps are for job training and to combat extremism.

On Friday, the ruling party's discipline agency threatened Walmart Inc. with a boycott after some shoppers complained online they couldn't find goods from Xinjiang in its Walmart and Sam's Club stores in China.

The United States has barred imports of goods from Xinjiang unless they can be shown not to be made by forced labor.

Other foreign auto brands including Volkswagen, General Motors and Nissan Motor Co. have showrooms in Xinjiang operated by the automakers' Chinese joint-venture partners. VW also operates a factory in Urumqi.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Elon in Shanghai
Former Tesla CEO and current chairman Elon Musk gestures during the Tesla China-made Model 3 Delivery Ceremony in Shanghai. Musk has been called upon by the Council of American-Islamic Relations to help close a new Tesla showroom in Xinjiang. Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images