Audi, Porsche cars stuck at US ports on concern over a Chinese part

HANOVER: Several thousand vehicles from German luxury car brands Audi and Porsche are stuck on board ships at ports in the United States because of customs issues involving a Chinese-made part.

Both brands belong to German auto giant Volkswagen (VW) and include parts manufactured by VW suppliers in western China, including in the Xinjiang province, which has been the focus of widespread international attention and human rights concern over China's treatment of the Uyghur minority.

"We are working to rectify a customs-related delay in the delivery of certain Volkswagen Group vehicle models from US ports to dealers," a VW spokesman told dpa on Thursday.

"Delivery of the vehicles is continuing, but unfortunately there may be delays," the spokesman added.

"This is due to a small electronic component of a larger control unit, which will be replaced in the affected vehicles as soon as the required parts are available."

According to German business newspaper Handelsblatt, 13,000 new cars from VW subsidiaries Audi and Porsche, as well as the VW-owned British luxury brand Bentley, are affected by the issue.

According to the Financial Times, the component in question originates from western China and may not be used in the United States due to a local law against forced labour.

However, Volkswagen itself reportedly had no knowledge of the part's origin because it had been installed in a larger component by a supplier.

Volkswagen only found out about this through a tip-off from the supplier and then informed authorities in the United States.

"We are clarifying the facts and taking appropriate measures," explained the VW spokesman. "This may also include terminating the supplier relationship if our investigations confirm serious violations."

Volkswagen has long been criticised for its manufacturing activities in western China. In the Xinjiang region there, Volkswagen operates a delivery plant and a test track along with its Chinese partner SAIC.

On Wednesday, Volkswagen announced that it would talk to SAIC "about the future direction of business activities in Xinjiang province."

"Various scenarios are currently being examined," the company said.

Last week, German chemical giant BASF announced that it would sell shares in its two joint ventures in Korla, China, in the centre of the Xinjiang region, following recent media reports linking Chinese partner firms to possible human rights violations.

Uyghur activists and human rights organisations have been reporting for years that hundreds of thousands of people in Xinjiang are being sent to re-education camps against their will, and in some cases tortured and forced to perform labour.

The Chinese government denies the allegations.
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