After the chemical company’s withdrawal from Xinjiang, German politicians have urged Volkswagen to follow suit. Renata Alt, Chairwoman of the Bundestag’s Human Rights Committee, emphasized the importance of not making compromises when it comes to human rights. She stated that Xinjiang must become a “no-go” as a location for economic activities for Western companies, including VW.
BASF’s decision to divest itself of shares in joint ventures in Xinjiang has been welcomed by these politicians. Green MEP Reinhard Bütikofer stated that the pressure on VW will increase. He 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 asserted that the human rights situation in Xinjiang is catastrophic and confusing, and German companies should not operate there.
The BASF Group announced that it would be selling shares in two joint ventures in Korla, China, in the center of the Xinjiang region, due to reports of possible human rights violations. Volkswagen operates a plant in Xinjiang in a joint venture with Chinese manufacturer Saic and their decision to continue operating in Xinjiang has been met with scrutiny. Despite issuing a commission to examine working conditions at its plant in Xinjiang, VW maintains that it takes its responsibility as a company worldwide very seriously when it comes to human rights issues including China’s Uighur minority population who are subjected to re-education camps torture and forced labor while denying such allegations by Chinese government officials.