Lower Saxony’s Prime Minister defends the VW plant in China
Stephen Weil, Prime Minister of Lower Saxony, has defended the Volkswagen car company against criticism of the plant in the Chinese Uyghur province of Xinjiang. “Volkswagen is by no means driving with its eyes closed,” said the SPD politician in an interview with the Reuters news agency published on Saturday.
“Everyone is aware that VW is under very close surveillance.” In recent years there have been repeated reports of forced labor and re-education camps in the province Xinjiang given. Weil further said that the joint venture in the city of Urumqi is economically of secondary importance for VW.
As with many other investments in countries where human rights are threatened, the question arises: “Would it be better for those affected locally in the company if you pulled out?” said Weil, who served as prime minister because of the state’s stake in the group sits on the supervisory board of VW.
“I remember Nelson Mandela, who thanked the Western companies who stayed despite the sanctions after apartheid in South Africa ended. That gave people courage,” he added. “The discussion is not black and white, and VW is anything but blue-eyed.”
VW China board member Ralf Brandstätter emphasized at the end of February that VW had agreed with its Chinese partner SAIC “that we would not tolerate any human rights violations in our plants”. The Chinese leadership will oppress the Muslim minority Uyghurs accused in the northwest of the country.
Beijing rejects this. The Wolfsburg company opened the factory in Urumqi in 2012 with a capacity of 50,000 vehicles. During the corona pandemic and due to supply bottlenecks, the workforce shrank by 65 percent to just under 240 employees.