Washington [US], December 2 (ANI): Airbnb, a US-based vacation rental company, has more than a dozen homes available for rent in China's Xinjiang region on land owned by an organization sanctioned by the US government for complicity in genocide and forced labour, according to Axios investigation.
The listings expose Airbnb to regulatory risk under US law. They also land yet another American tech company in the crossfire between the US and China, Axios said in the report.
Airbnb is one of 14 top-level sponsors of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
The US, UK and a growing number of governments have said that they are considering a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics over the Uyghur genocide in China's Xinjiang province.
The Chinese government is promoting tourism in Xinjiang where it is accused of arbitrarily detaining Uyghurs in internment centres.
Isaac Stone Fish, founder and CEO of Strategy Risks, a firm that specialises in assessing China and Xinjiang-related risk, told Axios that Airbnb's operations in Xinjiang "pose an unacceptably high level of regulatory and reputational risk for the company in the US.
Airbnb had not previously discussed the listings with the US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which is in charge of sanctions compliance and enforcement.
Christopher Nulty, the Airbnb spokesperson, said in a statement provided to Axios that the company takes its obligation to comply with US Treasury rules incredibly seriously.
"OFAC rules require Airbnb to screen the parties we are transacting with, not the underlying landowners," the statement added.
Alex Zerden, former Treasury official who worked on Global Magnitsky Act sanctions, said that sanctions compliance is not a check-the-box exercise.
"There are other considerations within the compliance regime that go beyond pure transaction screening with the immediate counterparty," Zerden added.
Axios said that it identified 14 Airbnb listings on land owned by the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), a large paramilitary organization that has long controlled vast swaths of Xinjiang's land, natural resources and economy. (ANI)