A shame of human rights to coerce multinational companies to leave Xinjiang: Global Times editorial
Published: Jun 01, 2022 12:28 AM
Volkswagen Photo: CFP

Volkswagen Photo: CFP

German car giant Volkswagen has recently encountered a sudden increase of political pressure in the West and the US over a plant it opened in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region nine years ago. German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said recently that Germany has refused a company's investment guarantees and the decision "was the "first time an investment guarantee has not been given on human rights grounds." The company was later identified by the media as Volkswagen. This is another specific case of groundless harassment of foreign companies in Xinjiang after Tesla was "besieged" for opening a new showroom in Xinjiang at the beginning of the year.

The matter cannot be more obvious. In response to the so-called Xinjiang issue, several anti-China forces from the US and the West are joining forces to launch a large-scale, cross-field "coercion campaign." They first fabricated outrageous lies such as "forced labor" and "genocide" in Xinjiang, and then took advantage of their discourse power to speak with a "unanimous voices" in public opinion in the US and the West. Under the banner of "human rights", they constructed the "politically correctness" on the Xinjiang issue. By exploiting such "political correctness," they coerced international public figures who uphold objective and fair stance on Xinjiang-related issue and multinational companies that insist on carrying out normal business with Xinjiang, creating a "chilling effect" in public opinion and business sectors. Their intentions are extremely vicious.

Volkswagen set up a factory in Xinjiang in 2013. At this factory, where 25 percent of its employees are ethnic minorities of China, it has never heard of a "human rights scandal" that violated German or Chinese labor standards in these years. Today, Volkswagen is forced to prove its innocence in front of the German media, and has to defend its normal and win-win business exchanges with Xinjiang which comply with the laws and regulations. This is a huge setback for the commercial civilization of the US and the West. The hidden hands behind the scene may not be able to burn the "heretics" to death like what the Inquisition did in the Middle Ages. But they attempt to crucify individuals or institutions that do not yield to their coercion, making them infamous until they become socially dead.

Public opinion on Xinjiang related affairs in the US and the West is highly distorted. Although Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess said the company would not close its factory in Xinjiang, everyone can see that he voiced the words cautiously. There is no "forced labor" involved in Volkswagen's facility there, and the company just plans to continue operations there. He also said the presence of Volkswagen in Xinjiang will lead to the "situation improving for people." He told the truth. In these years, more and more multinational companies have come to Xinjiang because of the superior investment environment there. Their sharp business vision has been rewarded handsomely. On the other hand, they have also provided employment opportunities for local people. This is a typical win-win situation, and it is also contribution to human rights.

On the contrary, those who use the excuse of protecting "human rights" in Xinjiang, are jeopardizing human rights in Xinjiang. They intimidate foreign companies to withdraw from Xinjiang and attempt to forcibly exclude Xinjiang from the global industrial chain. Isn't that direct harm to the right to subsistence and development of Xinjiang people?

They want to destroy the cotton planting and automobile production in Xinjiang. Aren't they trying to turn the ways local people make a living into the victims of their goal - using Xinjiang to contain China? This is a kind of "economic terrorism" and substantial human rights persecution and racial discrimination.

Honest speaking, the latest example in Germany is regrettable. Though it cannot represent the whole picture of China-Germany relations, it's a countercurrent that cannot be ignored. The German government refusing to provide "investment guarantees" for Volkswagen will not directly influence the company's business in China. But it sent a bad signal. The pragmatic, rational China policy long held during the Merkel era is being cast in the shadow of ideology. Based on groundless lies, a few German politicians and media outlets have forced German companies to kowtow to the American hegemonic rule, even stabbed German enterprises in the back. It is completely unreasonable from the point of common sense, or reason or law. They have been carried away by their allegiance to Washington.

But the trend will not be reversed by a few people's sputtering. Anti-China forces in the US and the West are trying to "strangle" Xinjiang and stir trouble in China, but actions that go against the rule and trend will win no support and are doomed to fail. Whether it's Tesla or Volkswagen, they have made their choice amid the anti-China clamor. People with common sense know that not only opportunities, but also time and morality stand on the side of China.