Intel is apologizing in China over the Xinjiang supplier statement

Intel is apologizing in China over the Xinjiang supplier statement

December 24, 2021: -On Thursday, U.S. chipmaker Intel apologized in China after its letter telling suppliers, not to source products or labor from the Xinjiang region triggered a backlash, which makes it the recent western firm to be tripped up over rights issues in the country.

Intel published what is described as an annual letter to suppliers in  December, that it had been “required to ensure that its supply chain does not use any labor or source goods or services from the Xinjiang region,” after restrictions imposed by “multiple governments.”

The U.S has accused China of widespread human rights abuses in Xinjiang, home to predominantly Muslim Uyghurs, which includes forced labor. Beijing has repeatedly denied the claims.

Intel’s letter, on the website of the company and in a few languages, sparked criticism in China from state and social media, with calls for a boycott.

On Thursday, in a Chinese-language statement on its official WeChat and Weibo accounts, Intel said that its commitment to avoid supply chains from Xinjiang was an expression of compliance with U.S. law instead of a statement of its position on the issue.

“We apologize for the trouble caused to our Chinese customers, partners, and the public. Intel is committed to becoming a trusted technology partner and accelerating joint development with China,” Intel said.

Other multinationals have come under pressure over aiming to comply with sanctions related to Xinjiang while it continues to operate in China, a massive market and supply base.

On China’s Twitter-such as Weibo, singer Karry Wang said he would no longer serve as brand ambassador for Intel, which adds in a statement that “national interests exceed everything.”

Many Weibo users derided Intel’s apology as an attempt at protecting sales in China, with one saying, “a mistake is a mistake! Retract the statement about Xinjiang!”

Intel has 10,000 employees in China, said in its apology that it “respected the sensitivity of the issue in China.”

China’s foreign ministry said, “accusations of forced labor in Xinjiang are lies concocted by anti-China American forces” aimed at destabilizing China and hindering its development.

“We note the statement and hope the company will respect facts and tell right from wrong,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a daily briefing in Beijing.

Intel’s China presence includes assembly and test sites in Shanghai and Chengdu.

In July, Swedish fashion retailer H&M reported a 23% hit in local currency sales in China for its March-May quarter after expressing concerns about human rights in Xinjiang.

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