A hot potato: Intel apologized to China following a letter to suppliers urging them not to source products or labor from the Xinjiang region. The statement sparked a backlash in the country and led to calls to boycott Intel products.
In an annual letter to suppliers dated December 2021, Intel wrote that it “has an obligation to ensure that our supply chain does not use labor or use any goods or services from the region of the Xinjiang “in China, following restrictions put in place by” several governments “.
The Xinjiang region is home to a large portion of China’s Muslim Uyghur population. Human rights groups have long claimed that they are often held in “re-education” camps and used as forced labor that powers global technology and retail supply chains.
China denies the charges, calling the camps “vocational training centers” designed to fight poverty and religious extremism.
The letter sparked a backlash against Chinese social media platform Weibo and the country’s state media, with many calling for a boycott of Intel. CNN reports that People’s Daily, the official Communist Party newspaper, called the statement “absurd” and warned that Intel “bites the hand that feeds it.”
Wang Junkai, a Chinese pop star who has served as an Intel Core brand ambassador, said he severed ties with the company because of his statement. “National interests are first and foremost,” he said.
Intel responded to the outcry with a Chinese language declaration Thursday on his official WeChat and Weibo accounts. “We apologize for the problems 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,” the company said. He added that he respected “the sensitivity of the issue in China”.
It seems not everyone in China is convinced by Chipzilla’s response. “Are Intel’s apologies sincere? Was all the rage on Weibo earlier today.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that “the Xinjiang-related allegations such as forced labor” are “lies by the anti-China forces in the United States.”
“We take note of the statement and hope that the society concerned will respect the facts and distinguish right from wrong,” he added.
Intel has 10,000 employees in China, which was its biggest customer in 2020, generating net sales of $ 20.26 billion. But it’s not the only US tech giant with strong ties to the Asian nation. China is also one of Apple’s biggest markets; recent report claims CEO Tim Cook signed a secret $ 275 billion investment deal with Chinese officials to help the company succeed in the country
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