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Uighur rights activists stage a demonstration outside the Chinese Embassy in London, England, on January 5, 2020. Recent years have seen growing international alarm toward China's policies in its western Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, where as many as a million ethnic Uighurs and other minorities are believed to be detained in indoctrination camps. (Photo by David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

SCIENCE & TECH: Intel deletes mention of Xinjiang after Chinese backlash


Intel has erased all mention of Xinjiang from a letter it sent to suppliers last month after the chipmaker came under fire from Chinese social media users for asking its partners not to source goods from the region over allegations of human rights abuses by Beijing.

The reference to Xinjiang in a mid-December letter to suppliers, which was published on the company web site, was aimed at complying with US regulations, Intel said on its social media account.

Washington has barred imports of goods from Xinjiang over complaints of human rights violations against the Uyghur Muslims, including mass detentions, forced abortions and forced labor.

The ruling Communist Party has denied the allegations.

The letter generated harsh backlash from state-run Chinese media as well as social media users, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The note to suppliers that sparked anger initially read: “Our investors and customers have inquired whether Intel purchases goods or services from the Xinjiang region of China. Multiple governments have imposed restrictions on products sourced from the Xinjiang region. Therefore, Intel is required to ensure our supply chain does not use any labor or source goods or services from the Xinjiang region.”

Intel apologized after posting a letter urging suppliers not to source goods from Xinjiang, where China is accused of human rights abuses.
NurPhoto via Getty Images

But an updated version of the letter from Intel’s web site made no mention of Xinjiang.

The Post has reached out to Intel seeking comment.

A company spokesperson told the Journal on Monday that the tech giant “recently issued a statement in China to address concerns raised by our stakeholders there regarding how we communicated certain legal requirements and policies with our global supplier network.”

On Dec. 23, Intel posted an apology on its Chinese social media accounts. It said that the letter was published in order to comply with American laws and that it did not represent the company’s position on Xinjiang.

The apology came on the same day that President Joe Biden signed into law legislation that bans the imports of goods from Xinjiang.

The Biden administration has said that the Chinese government’s actions in Xinjiang is tantamount to genocide. China has condemned the legislation.

American companies have been criticized at home for continuing to do business in China despite the government’s human rights record, particularly as it relates to its actions in Xinjiang.

Human rights activists have demanded that US companies boycott the upcoming Winter Olympic Games that are set to kick off in Beijing on Feb. 4.

Intel is one of several companies, including Coca-Cola and Samsung, that are sponsoring the Games.

CHINA - 2021/04/24: In this photo illustration the American multinational corporation and microprocessor technology company, Intel logo is seen on an Android mobile device with the word cancelled on a computer screen. (Photo Illustration by Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Intel defended its December letter, saying it was coming into compliance with a US law banning imports from Xinjiang.
SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett

Last month, the Biden administration announced a diplomatic boycott over what the White House referred to as “egregious human rights abuses and atrocities.”

The diplomatic boycott means that no American officials will attend official Olympic events like the opening and closing ceremonies. US athletes will still be allowed to compete.

Despite US public opinion, some of America’s largest brand names continue to strengthen their ties to China.

Elon Musk’s electric car maker, Tesla, recently opened a showroom in Xinjiang. The company announced the opening in a December 31 blog post on its official account on Weibo, which is China’s equivalent to Twitter.

Chinese government officials last month slammed Walmart and its wholesale chain Sam’s Club, accusing the retailers of “stupidity” after they reportedly pulled items sourced in Xinjiang province from stores in the country.



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