New Delhi, Jan 8 (IANS) Two US Democratic Congressmen have ratcheted up the pressure on Airbnb over its business dealings in Chinas Xinjiang province and sponsorship of next months Beijing Winter Olympics in a letter to the American property rental companys CEO, Brian Chesky, Forbes reported.
Sen. Jeff Merkley and Rep. James P. McGovern, the respective chair and co-chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, questioned “Airbnb’s commitment to human rights” due to its business dealings in Xinjiang, where the Chinese government’s increasingly oppressive treatment of the native Muslim Uyghur population has risen to the level of genocide in recent years, according to the US government, the report said.
An Axios report from last year, which found that Airbnb lists at least 14 properties on land owned by a paramilitary group sanctioned by the US Treasury Department, and the company’s sponsorship of next month’s Winter Olympics in Beijing, which the US is diplomatically boycotting, were among Merkley’s and McGovern’s primary concerns.
Airbnb spokesman Samuel Randall said in a statement to Forbes: “Airbnb operates in more than 100,000 cities across 220 countries and regions…including in China, which is home to roughly 20 percent of the world’s population. We operate where the US Government allows us to operate and require all users to agree to our non-discrimination Community Commitment.”
Sen. Marco Rubio wrote a similar letter to Chesky in December, calling for the company to pull out as an Olympics sponsor and “immediately delist” the properties owned by the sanctioned Xinjiang entity.
On December 23, US President Joe Biden signed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act into law, which banned most imports from the Xinjiang region. Tesla also faced criticism this week for its business dealings in the province after opening a vehicle showroom in Urumqi, the province’s capital city, Forbes reported.