Intel, a U.S. semiconductor chip maker, has removed all references to China’s Xinjiang region after drawing backlash from China for warning suppliers to avoid sourcing materials from the region.
In December, Intel published an open letter to its business partners and suppliers on its website and in several languages, advising them to avoid the Xinjiang region, the Wall Street Journal reported. Xinjiang has garnered international attention as Chinese authorities have detained an estimated 1.8 million Uyghurs and other predominantly-Muslim ethnic minority group members in the region and have reportedly used their forced labor.
Intel’s letter had stated, “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.”
The letter drew criticism from Chinese social media users and the Chinese state-run Global Times accused Intel of “distorting facts about Xinjiang.”
Following the backlash from China, Intel deleted the letter, published a new letter without any references to Xinjiang, and apologized.
Now, in its latest effort to repair relations with China, the U.S. company has deleted all references to Xinjiang from its website, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.
Following news of Intel’s latest decision to remove references to Xinjiang, China’s Global Times wrote that Chinese citizens welcomed the “belated” action. The Chinese outlet subsequently wrote that Intel’s “backpedaling” could serve as a lesson for other multinational companies. The Global Times said companies “will pay a price for it, if they undermine Chinese interests and offend Chinese consumers.”
Intel’s latest actions drew criticism from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) whose press team tweeted, “RUBIO: Intel should not get CHIPS funding from U.S. government after caving to #Beijing.”
CHIPS funding refers to funding provided in the “Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Act” which provides federal investments and incentives for companies to produce computer semiconductors to compete with China and it’s growing influence over the semiconductor market.
In a Monday press release, Rubio said “Intel’s cowardice is yet another predictable consequence of economic reliance on China.”
“Instead of humiliating apologies and self-censorship, companies should move their supply chains to countries that do not use slave labor or commit genocide,” Rubio continued. “If companies like Intel continue to obscure the facts about U.S. law just to appease the Chinese Communist Party then they should be ineligible for any funding under the CHIPS Act.”
The controversy for Intel comes as the company is also set to sponsor the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. The Beijing Games have already faced calls for boycotts from western nations and sponsors are facing increased calls to withdraw from the event.