BERLIN -- A Volkswagen-commissioned audit of its jointly owned site in Xinjiang, China, had found no signs of forced labor, the automaker said, although the auditor added that the challenges of data collection in China were widely known.
The audit, which was carried out by German human rights due diligence firm Loening Human Rights & Responsible Business, included on-site interviews and inspection of employee contracts and salary payments for the site's 197 employees.
"The situation in China and Xinjiang and the challenges in collecting data for audits are well known," Loening's managing director Markus Loening said in a statement, adding the mandate was limited to the employees of the Urumqi plant, which is a joint venture with SAIC.
Earlier this year, VW investors demanded that the automaker request cooperation from SAIC to conduct an independent audit of labor conditions at the site in Xinjiang, a region where rights groups have documented abuses including mass forced labor in detention camps.
Beijing denies any such abuses.