02/09/2024, 18.54
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BASF leaving Xinjiang after Uyghur allegations

The German chemical giant announced plans to speed up its exit from two joint ventures in Korla after allegations claim that its local partners worked with Chinese authorities to indoctrinate the local Muslim minority. The decision follows investigations by German media.

Milan (AsiaNews/Agencies) – German chemical giant BASF plans to exit from two joint ventures in Korla, Bayingholin Mongol Prefecture (Xinjiang), after German media reports suggest that the company’s local partners took part in indoctrination activities involving the region’s Uyghur minority. BASF CEO Martin Brudermüller made the announcement today.

BASF has been in Xinjiang since 2016 in two joint ventures with local partners (Markor Chemical Manufacturing (Xinjiang) Co. Ltd. and Markor Meiou Chemical (Xinjiang) Co. Ltd., to produce two chemical materials, butanediol, used in plastics and sportswear, and Tetrahydrofuran (THF), used in making elastic spandex fibres.

According to recently published media stories, BASF’s local partners worked with local authorities in fanghuiju, i.e. monitoring workers in their homes, in 2018 and 2019 – according to human rights groups, this practice is used to control and indoctrinate Uyghur families in Xinjiang.

As a result of the media reports, a group of Members of the European Parliament asked BASF to withdraw from Xinjiang. BASF began the process of divesting from the region in the last quarter of 2023 based on assessing product environment.

“The situation in the Xinjiang region has always been part of BASF’s overall assessment of its joint ventures in Korla,” reads a statement issued by the company. “Regular due diligence measures including internal and external audits have not found any evidence of human rights violations in the two joint ventures.

“Nonetheless, recently published reports related to the joint venture partner contain serious allegations that indicate activities inconsistent with BASF’s values. Consequently, BASF will accelerate the ongoing process to divest its shares in the two joint ventures in Korla, subject to negotiations and required approvals of the relevant authorities.”

“BASF’s presence in China remains otherwise unchanged,” the German firm says, “and the company is fully committed to its business activities and planned investments in the country.

“Already today, Greater China accounts for around half of global chemical production. Global growth in chemical production until 2030 will be driven by Greater China, which will account for around 80% of the total growth during the period from 2022 to 2030.”

The issue of anti-Uyghur repression by China has been raised many times by international organisations, which Beijing has always denied.

In 2022, after years of delays caused by China’s actions, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report on human rights violations in Xinjiang, which confirmed allegations of torture, forced labour, and other forms of violence against Uyghurs.

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