News & Politics

Congress Reacts as Tesla Opens a Showroom in China's Genocide Province

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

There is bipartisan outrage in Congress over Elon Musk’s plan to open a Tesla showroom in Xinjiang, China, where the Communist government has been accused of carrying out a systematic campaign of forced labor and genocide against the Uyghur minority.

“Your misguided expansion into the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region sets a poor example and further empowers the (Chinese government),” House Democrats Bill Pascrell and Earl Blumenauer wrote in a letter to Elon Musk, chairman of Tesla.

Senator Marco Rubio criticized “nationless corporations” helping the Chinese oppress the Uyghurs.

The Democratic congressmen, members of the House Ways and Means Committee, also questioned whether Tesla had a financial relationship with companies connected to Xinjiang.

Reuters:

The company operates a factory in Shanghai and is ramping up production there amid surging sales in China. China has also become an export hub for Teslas bound for Europe and other markets.

President Joe Biden and U.S. lawmakers have stepped up pressure on companies to distance themselves from Xinjiang. Biden signed a law on Dec. 23 barring imports of goods made in the region. The two lawmakers said the questions to Musk were in part to “better understand Tesla’s compliance” with the new law and other U.S. trade regulations.

The United States has labeled China’s treatment of ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang as genocide. China has rejected accusations of forced labor or any other abuses there.

Perhaps what Sri Lankan-born Canadian investor Chamath Palihapitiya said last week is true; “nobody, nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs.” This is especially true for mega-billionaires like Elon Musk and Chamath Palihapitiya. The enslaved Uyghurs work cheap.

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Musk manufactures half his company’s vehicles in China, which led to Tesla turning a profit for the first time last year. Tesla sales are booming in China, and Musk has indicated he plans to open more showrooms in the coming years.

There is no law against Musk making and selling cars manufactured in Xinjiang province. Perhaps there should be.

The Hill:

Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, expressed concern over whether Tesla’s dealership contributed to complicity in forced labor in Xinjiang.

“So how is [Elon Musk] going to avoid complicity in the Chinese government’s use of forced Uyghur Muslim labor in Xinjiang as [Tesla] opens a showroom there?” Roth tweeted. “Does he suddenly have a transparent supply chain that Beijing allows to no one else?”

When Adolf Hitler was on his way to seizing power in the early 1930s, his biggest backers were industrialists who knew that Hitler would sit on Germany’s powerful labor unions and allow them to make their profits in peace.

These were not stupid men. They knew full well what Hitler was capable of but calculated that, in the long run, he was better for business.

Businessmen like Musk, Palihapitiya, NBA owners, and the owners of athletic apparel companies like Nike know who is rising in the world and who is falling. They are buttering up China because that’s where the money is. That the Chinese Communists are oppressing 8 million Uyghurs is sad, but it’s a justifiable cost of doing business.

Besides, no one cares about the Uyghurs.