Flying Cake, Shouted Slogans, Shareholder Questions: Volkswagen Defends China Record at Meeting

A cake flying through the air in a conference hall in Germany.

The unique protest happened during Volkswagen’s annual shareholder meeting. Things got heated as activists and investors voiced their concerns about the company’s operations in China.

Around ten activists shouted accusations at the company’s CEO, accusing Volkswagen vehicles of being manufactured using forced labor. Their banners read, “End Uyghur Forced Labor.”

The United Nations has raised alarms about China’s treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang—known locally as East Turkestan. Suggesting that it may constitute crimes against humanity. Beijing has consistently denied this.

Investors also called on Volkswagen to request an independent audit of its plant in Xinjiang. The plant is jointly owned with the Chinese state-owned company SAIC.

Ralf Brandstaetter, Volkswagen’s China chief, defended the company’s position. Saying quote “We do not see any evidence of human rights abuses at the plant.”

Tensions reached a boiling point when an unidentified activist threw a cake at a shareholder, causing commotion near the stage.

Volkswagen’s supervisory board Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch was speaking on stage at the time.

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