BERLIN – Volkswagen plans to continue operating at its plant in China’s Xinjiang region despite allegations of human rights violations there, the chief executive said in comments published by the Handelsblatt newspaper on Monday.
The German automaker, which has a joint venture with China’s biggest automaker SAIC Motor, has since 2013 had a plant in Urumqi, the capital of the western region where Western countries and human rights groups say the ethnic Uyghurs face torture and detention.
“I think SAIC Volkswagen’s presence makes the situation better for people,” CEO Herbert Diess said.
“We travel there and, as everywhere in the world, we make sure that our labor standards are applied and that cultural and religious differences are respected,” Diess told Handelsblatt.
According to the report, any evidence of irregularities at the Xinjiang plant will be subject to a “massive” response.
The German Economics Ministry has refused to provide VW with guarantees to cover new investments in China due to alleged human rights violations, according to an article published in Der Spiegel on Friday.
China has repeatedly denied any mistreatment of Uyghurs, describing the so-called detention camps as voluntary vocational training centers.
Volkswagen has also faced pressure to address concerns in Brazil, where prosecutors have launched an investigation into alleged human rights violations related to cattle ranching in the country.
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