Intel apologizes for asking suppliers to avoid Xinjiang

BEIJING (AP) – Intel Corp. apologized on Thursday for asking suppliers to avoid sourcing products from Xinjiang after the world’s largest chipmaker joined other foreign brands facing fury from state media over complaints of abuse by the ruling Communist Party in the predominantly Muslim region.

Intel’s request was “arrogant and vicious,” said Global Times, a newspaper published by the ruling party.

The reference to Xinjiang in a letter to suppliers was to comply with US regulations, Intel said on its social media account. Washington has banned imports of goods from Xinjiang over complaints of mass detentions, forced abortions and forced labor, which Beijing denies.

Tension in Xinjiang is mounting as activists call for a boycott of the February Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, a high-profile project for the ruling party. The White House has said the United States will not send dignitaries. Intel is one of the main sponsors of the United States-based International Olympic Committee.

Beijing on Wednesday banned four members of a US government panel on religious freedom from coming from China in retaliation for sanctions Washington imposed on two Xinjiang leaders.

“The so-called forced labor and other allegations about Xinjiang are completely lies concocted by anti-Chinese forces,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said. He called on Intel to “respect the facts and distinguish right from wrong”.

Some online commentators, where comments the ruling party does not want are censored, have called for a boycott of Intel products.

Intel processor chips are used in smartphones, computers, and other products.

The letter raised “concerns among our dear Chinese partners, which we deeply regret,” said a statement from Intel.

“We apologize for the problems caused to our respected Chinese customers, partners and the public,” the company said.

Other companies, including retailer H&M and shoe brand Nike, have been the target of criticism and boycott calls after expressing concern over Xinjiang or saying they would stop using materials produced there. -low.

The Chinese government rejects complaints of abuse in Xinjiang, but companies say they are unable to conduct independent audits of factories and other workplaces.

Pop singer Wang Junkai, also known as Karry Wang, announced on Wednesday that he was withdrawing from a deal to act as a “brand ambassador” for the Intel Core processor line.

Wang’s move is a “new warning siren for Intel and other foreign companies seeking to undermine China’s core interests while trying to take advantage of the vast Chinese market,” said the Global Times, known for its your nationalist.

Other singers, actors and other celebrities have severed ties with foreign brands that have come under criticism over Xinjiang, giving up millions of dollars in earnings to protect their careers from official retaliation.

Xinjiang is a major supplier of silica used in the manufacture of computer chips. Intel has a chip factory in Dalian, northeast China, the only one in Asia and one of four outside the United States. The company also has a research center in Beijing.

Criticism from state media could prompt consumers to turn to chip products from other vendors. But there are few alternatives. These include US Advanced Micro Devices Inc. for desktop and server chips, and UK company Arm Ltd. for smartphones.

The Communist Party has spent billions of dollars to build a Chinese chip industry and reduce its dependence on the United States, Taiwan and other suppliers. But its manufacturers fall far short of the level of precision required for the most advanced chips from Intel and other global suppliers.

Intel, headquartered in Santa Clara, Calif., Reported 2020 profits of $ 23.7 billion on sales of $ 77.9 billion.

Smartphones and other products are designed to work with the characteristics of a specific chip from a vendor. Switching would require a design overhaul and testing.

Trying to switch to other vendors would be particularly difficult and costly at a time when a global chip shortage from the coronavirus pandemic is disrupting production of products ranging from smartphones to cars.

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