U.S. lawmakers raise concerns about Airbnb business in Xinjiang

WASHINGTON, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Two U.S. lawmakers on Friday raised concerns about home rental firm Airbnb Inc's business activities in China's Xinjiang region, where Washington says Beijing is committing genocide against Uyghurs and other Muslim groups.

Senator Jeff Merkley and Representative James McGovern, two Democrats who respectively chair and co-chair the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, sent Airbnb a letter asking about some of its listings in Xinjiang and other issues.

Airbnb did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

China denies abuses in Xinjiang.

The lawmakers cited an Axios website report that more than a dozen of Airbnb’s listings in Xinjiang are on land owned by the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), which was hit by U.S. Treasury Department sanctions in 2020.

The action freezes any U.S. assets of the company and officials and generally prohibits Americans from dealing with them.

The letter cited the U.S. Department of State as saying XPCC is a quasi-military organization "directly involved in forced labor and possibly other human rights abuses" in Xinjiang.

The lawmakers said they were raising "questions about Airbnb’s commitment to human rights and anti-discrimination in China as it sponsors the Beijing Winter Olympics" that starts next month.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington on Friday repeated its denials of abuses in Xinjiang and said certain members of Congress "repeatedly hyped up the issues and exerted pressure on companies." It asserted some lawmakers had a "malicious intention of hijacking business with political schemes and keeping China down with Xinjiang-related issues."

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Richard Chang and Grant McCool

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