More than a dozen of Airbnb’s listings in Xinjiang are on land allegedly owned by a company under U.S. sanctions list since 2020.
Two members of the US Congress have expressed concern about the rental company Airbnb Inc. ‘s business operations in China’s Xinjiang Region, where Washington says Beijing commits genocide against Muslim Uighurs and other ethnic groups.
Senator Jeff Merkley and Representative James McGovern, two Democrats who chaired and co-chaired the Congressional Executive Commission on China, respectively, sent a letter to Airbnb (PDF) asks about some of his listings in Xinjiang and other issues.
Lawmakers said they were asking “questions about Airbnb’s commitment to human rights and anti-discrimination in China, as it sponsors the Beijing Winter Olympics” which begin next month.
“While Airbnb continues to maintain lists in the XUAR, it has not publicly condemned the ongoing genocide or other heinous, systematic human rights abuses perpetrated against ethnic minorities in China,” the letter said. the Xinjiang Uighur. Autonomous region.
China denies abuse in Xinjiang.
Lawmakers cited an Axios website report that more than a dozen of Airbnb’s listings in Xinjiang are on land owned by the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), which was hit in 2020 by U.S. Treasury Department sanctions.
The action freezes any U.S. assets of the company and officials and generally prohibits Americans from trading in them.
The letter quoted the US State Department as saying that XPCC is a quasi-military organization “directly involved in forced labor and possibly other human rights abuses” in Xinjiang.
The two lawmakers said Airbnb “continues to operate in a country whose laws require hosts to discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, place of origin, or lack of a passport, when the ability to obtain a passport may be impossible. be for people of some ethnic groups “.
Airbnb did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In 2019, the online home rental company also came under intense criticism from Palestinian law groups for continue to list rental properties in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Xinjiang has become a significant point of conflict between Western governments and China in recent years, as United Nations experts and legal groups estimate that more than a million people, mainly Uighurs and members of other Muslim minorities, are being held in camps there. is.
The Chinese embassy in Washington on Friday reiterated its denial of abuse in Xinjiang, saying certain members of Congress “have repeatedly raised the issues and put pressure on companies”.
– China Commission (@CECCgov) 7 January 2022
It claimed that some legislators had a “malicious intent to hijack business with political schemes and keep China with Xinjiang – related issues”.
On Tuesday, Tesla has also been criticized after his announcement that he had opened a showroom in Xinjiang.
Under intense pressure from the US Congress, President Joseph Biden signed a new law in December banning products made in Xinjiang due to the reported violations of rights.
The law imposes an almost total ban on US imports of goods from Xinjiang by requiring suppliers to first prove that their products were not manufactured by forced labor. Xinjiang is a major supplier of cotton and solar panels.
China says US action is a form of “economic bullying”. Beijing has also imposed sanctions on four members of the US Government’s Commission on International Religious Freedom in retaliation for penalties imposed on Chinese officials over the Xinjiang issue.