By Max Bernhard 

Volkswagen AG (VOW.XE) said Tuesday that employees in Xinjiang, China, haven't received any military education while working at the car maker's plant in the region, but didn't deny a local partnership with the People's Armed Police Force, which has been linked to China's crackdown on ethnic minorities.

"There was and is no military education for the workers" at the plant in Urumqi, Volkswagen said in a statement in response to a report by German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung. Urumqi, in the northwest of China, is the capital of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, which has a significant Muslim population.

The German car maker started operations at the site in 2013.

Chinese authorities have detained as many as a million Muslims in a network of internment camps, according to estimates by experts working for the United Nations, while others are subject to mass digital surveillance.

Volkswagen operates the plant in Urumqi as a joint-venture with state-owned SAIC Motor Corporation Ltd. The plant has an agreement with the People's Armed Police, a paramilitary police force, Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported. The agreement provides for "patriotic education" and "military training" for new plant employees, the report says, citing Chinese media and a press release by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

Volkswagen has previously faced criticism about its human rights track record, including earlier this year, when Chief Executive Herbert Diess said that he was "not aware" of China's treatment of Uighurs in the region, in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp.


Write to Max Bernhard at; @mxbernhard


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 26, 2019 07:14 ET (12:14 GMT)

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