Following a protest over a letter advising itds suppliers not to purchase items or labour from China’s Xinjiang region, Intel has issued an apology.
In China, the letter form the company had triggered outrage and calls for a boycott.
Following limitations imposed by “various countries,” Intel was “forced to ensure” that its supply chain did not use labour or obtain commodities from Xinjiang, according to the letter.
In Xinjiang, China has been charged of human rights violations.
Many of the Muslim Uyghurs of China live in this region, and there have been charges of forced labour and possibly genocide.
The BBC reported in December of last year that China was pushing hundreds of thousands of minorities, including Uyghurs, into manual labour in Xinjiang’s cotton fields, based on new research.
The allegations have been frequently refuted by Beijing.
Intel noted in a Chinese-language statement on its official WeChat and Weibo accounts that their promise to avoid Xinjiang supply chains was an indication of conformity with US law instead of a view on the topic.
“We apologise 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,” the firm said.
According to the White House, President Joe Biden signed a bill into law requiring businesses to verify that commodities supplied from China’s Xinjiang province were not made with forced labour.
The bill was approved by Congress last week with the goal of preventing US businesses from profiting off slave labor, which China denies.
Many users of Weibo mocked Intel’s apologies as a ploy to safeguard its Chinese sales. One such user said: “A mistake is a mistake! Retract the statement about Xinjiang!”
At the same time, the hashtag “Is Intel’s apology sincere?” was trending on Weibo on Thursday, according to reports.
Karry Wang, a singer, announced that he would no longer be an Intel brand ambassador, citing “national interests” as the reason.
Intel isn’t the first firm to face criticism for attempting to comply with Xinjiang sanctions while continuing to operate in China.
Nike and H&M received reaction earlier this year after they expressed worry over the alleged use of forced labour by Uyghurs in cotton cultivation.
Intel, which employs 10,000 people in China, apologised, saying it understood “the sensitivity of the subject in China.”
Meanwhile, China’s foreign ministry stated that “accusations of forced labour in Xinjiang are lies invented by anti-China American forces” in order to destabilise the country and obstruct its growth.
“We note the statement and hope the relevant company will respect facts and tell right from wrong,” said foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.
(Adapted from BBC.com)