The German automaker Volkswagen has defended Tuesday its plant in Xinjiang, the vast region of north-west China, where over a million muslims would be held in Beijing to this as ” vocational training centres “.
The decision to install in Urumqi, the regional capital, a factory which was opened in 2013 “was taken solely on the basis of economic considerations,” notes the manufacturer, insisting on “the important role” of the site to ” strengthen our activities in the China of the West “.
Sunday night, documents obtained by the international Consortium of investigative journalists (ICIJ) and published by 17 organs of the press in the world have cast a harsh light on the regulations draconian governing the detention sites installed in the region.
The Süddeutsche Zeitung has in particular reported an agreement of good neighbourliness “between Volkswagen and the chinese police, described by the daily as” a driving force behind the arrests.”
Volkswagen is “aware” of the situation in the region and ” observes the developments in referring to the public reports of the united Nations “, explained the group to the AFP. “We want the jobs contribute to improve the social context for the inhabitants of Urumqi. ”
According to organizations that defend human rights, more than a million muslims, mostly ethnic uighurs, have been detained in Xinjiang in camps of re-education policy.
Beijing rejects this figure and refers to “vocational training centres” to combat islamist radicalisation, in response to a series of bloody attacks attributed in recent years to militant uighurs.
“All of our employees on the site have a contract” with the chinese subsidiary of the manufacturer, a joint venture owned with the chinese group SAIC. “We start from the premise that none of our employees do not work under duress. ”
“Every person has the opportunity to apply “regardless of” age, religion or ethnicity, “says Volkswagen, stating that, with some 25% of its 650 employees, the employment rate of “minority” ethnic on his site is “compliant” to the one observed in the city.
China is a strategic market for the German group, which has sold 3.4 million cars in the first ten months of the year, which is nearly as much as on its main market, Europe.
“We believe that western China will experience economic growth in the coming years, this is why we continue to focus on the plant in Urumqi and develop our engagement in the region “, adds the company in a press release.
This is a sensitive issue for Volkswagen: in April, the boss Herbert Diess said in a television interview that provoked a public outcry “not be aware” of the camps, before his communications team does the shooting.