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Days after Tesla opened a store in Xinjiang

White House press secretary Jen Psaki says the private sector 'cannot look the other way' when it comes to human-rights abuses of Uyghur Muslims

Morgan Keith

Jan 5, 2022

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, at a press briefing at the White House on Tuesday. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Following the opening of a Tesla store in Xinjiang, China, the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, said on Tuesday that private-sector companies that fail to address forced labor and human-rights abuses within their supply chains "face serious legal, reputational, and customer risk" both internationally and in the US.

Human Rights Watch has estimated that Chinese authorities have detained 1 million Uyghur Muslims in "re-education" camps where they've been subjected to human-rights abuses. People who've escaped from the camps have given detailed accounts about the abuses they endured, including beatings, forced labor, medical experiments, and forced abortions.

China has denied all allegations of abuse against the Uyghur population.

In late December, President Joe Biden signed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which bans imports from the Xinjiang region unless companies can prove they were not produced using forced labor. Several companies had lobbied to weaken the bill, including Apple, Coca-Cola, and Nike, The New York Times reported.

"I can't speak to the specific situation of one company, but as a general matter we believe the private sector should oppose the PRC's human-rights abuses and genocide in Xinjiang," Psaki said when asked about Tesla. "The international community, including the public and private sectors, cannot look the other way when it comes to what is taking place in Xinjiang."

Tesla did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.


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