Intel Offers Apology In China Over Xinjiang Province Supplier Statement

American chip maker Intel Corp. (INTC) on Thursday offered an apology in China after the company's letter asking suppliers not to take products or labor from the Xinjiang region came under severe criticism.

In an annual letter sent to suppliers in December, the company said that it has been "required to ensure that its supply chain does not use any labor or source goods or services from the Xinjiang region", following restrictions imposed by "multiple governments".

The letter comes in the backdrop of the United States accusing China of multiple human rights abuses in the Xinjiang province, which is home to China's predominantly Muslim Uyghurs. The abuses include forced labor. Beijing has time and again denied these claims.

The Intel letter was published on the company website and in several languages. It led to widespread criticism in China from the state media and social media platforms, who called for a boycott.

In a Chinese statement on Thursday 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, rather than a statement of its position on the issue.
The company said, "We apologize for the trouble caused to our respected Chinese customers, partners and the public. Intel is committed to becoming a trusted technology partner and accelerating joint development with China."

Many other big multinationals have also faced pressure over their plans to comply with sanctions related to Xinjiang even while working in China, which is a large market and supply base.

Many users on China's counterpart to Twitter, Weibo, felt that Intel's apology was an attempt at protecting sales in China, with one saying "a mistake is a mistake! Retract the statement about Xinjiang!"

Intel, which has 10,000 employees in the country, said in its apology that it "respected the sensitivity of the issue in China."

Commenting on the issue, 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 relevant company will respect facts and tell right from wrong."

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