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14 Feb 2024

Agence Belga,

China: Volkswagen in talks over future of Xinjiang site following renewed concerns over human rights

"Volkswagen in talks over future of Xinjiang site as pressure mounts", 14 Feb 2024

Volkswagen is in talks with its joint venture partner in China over its presence in Xinjiang, it said on Wednesday after a German newspaper reported what it said was evidence of the carmaker's involvement in forced labour.

The issue adds to pressure on Germany's biggest corporations to rethink ties with China, specifically in the Xinjiang region, where rights groups have documented abuses including forced labour in detention camps. Beijing denies any such abuses.

The report in business newspaper Handelsblatt said that independent researcher Adrian Zenz had found evidence of the use of forced labour in the construction of a test track in Turpan, Xinjiang, which is operated by a subsidiary of the joint venture of SAIC and Volkswagen.

"Volkswagen is currently in talks with the non-controlled joint venture SAIC-Volkswagen about the future direction of business activities in Xinjiang province. Different scenarios are being considered intensively," a spokesperson said when asked about the report.

SAIC did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

The news comes less than a week after German chemicals giant BASF disclosed it would sell its stakes in two joint ventures in the Xinjiang region, also citing reports containing serious allegations regarding human rights violations...

German fund manager Union Investment said the latest news meant Volkswagen no longer qualified for investment from its sustainable funds...

Part of the following timelines

China: 83 major brands implicated in report on forced labour of ethnic minorities from Xinjiang assigned to factories across provinces; Includes company responses

China: Mounting concerns over forced labour in Xinjiang