US chip maker Intel apologised on Thursday to its Chinese customers, partners and public for telling its suppliers not to source products or labour from the region of Xinjiang.
The company suffered a backlash after saying it had been “required to ensure that its supply chain does not use any labour or source goods or services from the Xinjiang region” following restrictions imposed by “multiple governments”.
The US has accused China of widespread human rights abuses in the predominantly Muslim region of Xinjiang, including forced labour. Beijing has repeatedly denied the claims.
The Global Times, a nationalist tabloid run by the ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily stable of newspapers, branded Intel’s statement as “absurd”.
It noted that the company – which earned 26% of its total revenues from China in 2020 – was “biting the hand that feeds it”.
“What we need to do is to make it increasingly expensive for companies to offend China so their losses outweigh their gains,” the newspaper said in an editorial.
Singer Quits as Brand Ambassador
On China’s Twitter-like Weibo microblog service, singer Karry Wang said he would no longer serve as brand ambassador for Intel, adding in a statement that “national interests exceed everything”. Many Weibo users called on Chinese citizens to boycott Intel.
Multinational companies have come under pressure as they aim to comply with Xinjiang-related trade sanctions while continuing to operate in China, one of their biggest markets.
The Global Times said in its editorial that multinationals “should be able to endure, properly handle and balance pressure from all parties”.
The Chinese-language apology was published on Intel’s official WeChat account. Intel could not immediately be reached for comment.
- Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard