US chipmaker Intel has apologised to Chinese customers, partners and the public for telling its suppliers not to source products or labour from the region of Xinjiang, following a backlash in China.
The company recently published what it described as an annual letter to suppliers, dated December, that 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”.
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That letter, on the company’s website and in several languages, sparked a backlash in China on Thursday from state and social media, with calls for a boycott of the company’s products.
In a Chinese-language statement on Thursday on its official WeChat account, Intel said that its commitment to avoid supply chains from Xinjiang was an expression of compliance with US law, rather than a statement of its position on the issue.
“We apologise for the trouble caused to our respected Chinese customers, partners and the public. Intel is committed to becoming a trusted technology partner and accelerating joint development with China,” Intel said.
UN experts and rights groups estimate more than a million people, mainly Uighurs and members of other Muslim minorities, have been detained in recent years in a vast system of camps in China’s far western region of Xinjiang. China denies abuses in Xinjiang and says its policies there help combat extremism.