German automaker Volkswagen has defended its decision of still operating its car plant in Xinjiang in China as some multinational companies cut ties due to allegations of large-scale human rights violations of Uighur Muslims in the region by the government. Even though critics have argued that it is the company’s moral obligation to shut down its plant in Xinjiang, in an interview with BBC, the Volkswagen CEO in China, Stephen Wollenstein has said that they “do not have forced labour.”
In the remote area of China, the German automaker runs a factory with nearly 600 workers and manufactures up to 20,000 vehicles every year. The company’s CEO in China recalled that there was forced labour in its plants during the Nazi times when Volkswagen was founded by the ruling Germany Nazi Party in 1937. At the time, the company used prisoners from concentration camps in its factories while the world was rocked in World War II.
Calling forced labour “unacceptable situation”, Wollenstein said that they are ensuring that none of the sites has such practice. However, as per BBC, when he was asked about how certain he was about his claim of denying any such labour in the workforce with at least 25% Uighurs and other minorities, the company’s CEO in China said, “We could never reach 100% certainty.”
The United Nations (UN) has estimated that there are nearly one million Muslims who have been detained in the Asian country’s remote region. Meanwhile, activists claim that several human rights violations are taking place in Xinjiang. But, China has categorically denied all allegations and claims that the camps in the area are set up to provide ‘vocational training’ to tackle extremism.