McKinsey held a lavish corporate retreat in Kashgar miles from where the Chinese government is imprisoning thousands of ethnic Uighurs

Kevin Frayer/Getty ImagesUighur men in the in the far western Xinjiang province, China.
  • McKinsey & Company held a lavish corporate retreat in Kashgar, about four miles from where thousands of Muslim Chinese are locked up in an internment camp, the New York Times reported on Saturday.
  • The retreat highlighted McKinsey’s work with China, as consultants enjoyed bonfires, camel rides, and red carpets.
  • This anecdote speaks to a troubling trend at McKinsey – engaging in work with authoritarian leaders around the globe, even as the consulting firm professes to “make a positive difference.”

Up to one million Chinese citizens have been allegedly locked up in the western region of Xinjiang – a remote, Muslim-majority Chinese province populated by the Uighur ethnic minority.

Reports of a massive police state that China has launched in Xinjiang has horrified people around the world, who have demanded China cease its surveillance, imprisonment, and forced re-education of Chinese Muslims. The United Nations has demanded that China release the imprisoned citizens.

But the people at McKinsey & Company’s recent retreat in Kashgar, a Xinjiang city, didn’t seem to mind. A report from The New York Times revealed on Saturday that McKinsey held a corporate retreat in Kashgar about four miles from an internment camp that holds thousands of Uighurs.

The anecdote speaks to a larger trend at McKinsey, wrote New York Times reporters Walt Bogdanich and Michael Forsythe:

At a time when democracies and their basic values are increasingly under attack, the iconic American company has helped raise the stature of authoritarian and corrupt governments across the globe, sometimes in ways that counter American interests.

Indeed, at the Kashgar retreat, McKinsey consultants spent their time discussing their work with state-owned Chinese firms, as well as riding camels and going to lavish bonfires, the Times reported. They spent their time in tents in the Kashgar desert that were linked by red carpets. And the consultants documented the “Disney-like” experience on Instagram, according to The New York Times.

The decision to do business with state-owned firms and hold a sumptuous retreat four miles from an internment camp enforcing Islamophobic policies by the Chinese government stands in contrast with what McKinsey alleges to be its mission and purpose in the world. The second “value” listed on its website is “observe high ethical standards.”

The Times report also detailed McKinsey’s business deals with authoritarian figures in the Ukraine, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Malaysia.

“Since 1926, McKinsey has sought to make a positive difference to the businesses and communities in which our people live and work,” the company said in a statement to the Times.

“Like many other major corporations including our competitors, we seek to navigate a changing geopolitical environment, but we do not support or engage in political activities,” the company added.

Read the entire New York Times report on McKinsey here.

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