by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Intel has apologized for discouraging suppliers from doing business with China’s Xinjiang region, after a letter published on its website sparked backlash from a Chinese state-run publication and social media users.
Citing government restrictions in multiple countries on products from the area, Intel said they were “required to ensure our supply chain does not use any labor or source goods or services from the Xinjiang region.” Now the company is trying to play damage control to quell the ire of their Chinese customers.
“We deeply apologize for the confusion caused to our respected Chinese customers, partners and the public,” Intel said in a statement reported by The Wall Street Journal, in which they claimed that the previous letter had only been issued to be in compliance with American legal requirements.
The statement was issued around the same time the Senate passed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which bans goods produced by slave labor in Xinjiang or other parts of China from entering the U.S. President Biden later signed the bill into law.
Intel in the past has taken a strong position for social justice regarding domestic issues in the U.S., including a May 2020 memo from CEO Bob Swan declaring that black lives matter following the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.
“While racism can look very different around the world, one thing that does not look different is that racism of any kind will not be tolerated here at Intel or in our communities,” Swan said.
Now, however, Intel joins a growing list of major firms cozying up to China, despite government officials taking action against human rights abuses against the Uyghur population in Xinjiang. Airbnb, Coca-Cola, and General Electric are among the sponsors of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.