Social media users called for a boycott of Intel products after the chip giant told suppliers not to ship from Xinjiang.

 


Weibo users are boycotting Intel products and the Chinese pop star has ended his partnership with the brand. Intel apologized to the Chinese public, saying it followed protocol without expressing any political opinion.

In its annual letter to suppliers dated December 2021, the company said, “Intel is committed to ensuring that our supply chain does not use labor or source goods or services from the Xinjiang region. The letter is available in multiple languages ​​including English and Chinese.

The company said it was responding to inquiries from investors and customers whether to buy goods or services from Xinjiang. Intel also notes that many governments have restricted products made in the region.

Intel's letter went viral on Chinese social media and some social media users called for a boycott of Intel products. Carrie Wang Junkai, a popular Chinese pop star who became Intel's brand ambassador, also ended her partnership with the brand late Monday, according to a post on her official Weibo account.

State media also leaked the matter, with the Global Times saying Intel bit the hand that fed it. China accounted for a quarter of Intel's sales in 2020, according to the company's regulatory documents.

In response to outrage, Intel said it respects the "sensitivity" of the matter, adding that the letter's intent was to ensure compliance with US law, a statement on its Weibo microblog account Thursday.

Intel added that its statements about Xinjiang were not aimed at taking a political stance on the issue.

"We sincerely apologize for the suffering that our valued Chinese customers, partners and public have suffered," the statement said.

The developments come amid serious concerns about human rights abuses against the Uyghurs, a Turkic Muslim ethnic minority group in the Uyghur Autonomous Region in Xinjiang. In 2018, the United Nations designated the area a "no rights zone" and designated the area a "secret mass camp for internment".

Intel is not the first international company to get caught up in a geopolitical focus on the Xinjiang issue. Earlier this year, Chinese social media users started burning their Nikes after the sportswear giant announced it would not use locally sourced cot.

Last week, the US Congress banned all imports from China's Xinjiang unless companies prove they were made without forced labour.

China has repeatedly denied human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

"In support of China's plans to demarcate Xinjiang, some US politicians have done nothing to demean and slander Xinjiang," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijiang said at Monday's regular press conference, according to the official transcript.

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