German politicians from various parties, including the SPD, Greens, and FDP, have called on Volkswagen to follow suit after a chemical company announced its withdrawal from Xinjiang. Renata Alt, Chairwoman of the Bundestag’s Human Rights Committee, stated that Xinjiang must become a “no-go” as a location for economic activities for Western companies.
BASF’s decision to divest itself of shares in joint ventures in Xinjiang has been welcomed by these politicians. Green MEP Reinhard Bütikofer emphasized that there is an ethical red line for the business ability of companies and asserted that “complicity with the forced labor regime in Xinjiang” lies behind it.
The Federal Government Commissioner for Freedom of Religion and Belief, Frank Schwabe, demanded that all German companies halt any further business operations in Xinjiang. He emphasized that the human rights situation in Xinjiang is catastrophic and confusing and urged German companies to stay away from operating there.
The BASF Group announced that it would be selling shares in two joint ventures in Korla, China, at the center of Xinjiang due to reports of possible human rights violations. However, Volkswagen operates a plant in Xinjiang through a joint venture with Chinese manufacturer Saic and their decision to continue operating there has been met with scrutiny.
Despite issuing a commission to examine working conditions at the plant in Xinjiang, VW insists it takes its responsibility as a company worldwide seriously regarding human rights. The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights are adhered to closely by the company. Reports from Uighurs, members of other minorities and human rights organizations have revealed hundreds of thousands of people have been forced into re-education camps, tortured and subjected to forced labor while the Chinese government denies these allegations.