German firm BASF urged to quit Xinjiang over ‘gross abuses’ of Uyghurs

Recent research from VOC’s Dr. Adrian Zenz, Senior Fellow and Director in China Studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, helped to prompt an investigation into German chemicals producer BASF and its connections to Uyghur forced labor in Xinjiang. An article from The Guardian highlights Dr. Zenz’s findings and recent pressure on BASF by politicians around the world.

“The German chemicals producer BASF ‘appears to be implicated in gross abuses’ of Uyghurs in Xinjiang and should withdraw from the Chinese province, a group of politicians from around the world have said.

The group made the allegation in a letter to BASF’s chair, Martin Brudermüller, on Monday, after the German media outlets Der Spiegel and ZDF published a joint investigation on Friday.

The investigation found that in 2018 and 2019 people employed by BASF’s Chinese partner company, Xinjiang Markor Chemical Industry, in Xinjiang accompanied Chinese state officials on home visits to Uyghur households, as part of a government initiative that human rights groups have said is used to spy on people and indoctrinate them.

The visits were part of the fanghuiju campaign, in which officials from government agencies, state-owned enterprises and public institutions in Xinjiang visit Uyghurs and other minorities at home to collect information and monitor people’s behaviour.

Human Rights Watch has described fanghuiju visits as invasive and said that ‘families are required to provide officials with information about their lives and political views, and are subjected to political indoctrination.’

The letter sent on Monday, signed by more than 30 politicians, said: ‘The reports [in the German media] indicate the shocking degree to which your company appears to be implicated in gross abuses of the Uyghur and other predominantly Turkic minorities in the region.’

‘As advocates for corporate responsibility, human rights due diligence and respect for basic rights, we urge BASF to withdraw from Xinjiang. The credibility and integrity of your company are at stake, and we believe it is crucial for you to take swift and decisive action in addressing this matter.’

‘It is our hope that BASF will take this matter seriously and prioritise the wellbeing of those in Xinjiang who are suffering grievously under oppressive and discriminatory policies.’

The investigation was based on research by an independent researcher, Adrian Zenz, who drew on state media and corporate and social responsibility reports.”

Read the full article in The Guardian.