Intel this week apologized for implementing a policy not to source anything from China's Xinjiang province and clarified that the rule was set to comply with the U.S. laws. But while Intel said sorry to its suppliers and clients in China, it does not look like the policy is going to be changed any time soon.
The debate exploded after Intel sent a year-end letter to suppliers remarking that components made in Xinjiang should not be used in its products (which includes chips, PCs, SSDs, and many more items assembled in China). The note quickly attracted the attention of the nationalist media in the country and they caused a vocal backlash against Intel, according to the Financial Times.
As a result, Intel had to apologize in China for implementing a policy not to source materials and components from Xinjiang, a region where systematic human rights violations of the ethnic Uyghur Muslim population take place, according to Human Rights Watch and other similar agencies based in Western countries. There are reports that forced labor is widely used in Xinjiang. The Chinese government consistently denies that the violations happen.
Intel said that the policy was implemented to comply with the U.S. laws and was not the company's own point of view. However, the fate of the policy is unclear. "We apologize for the distress caused to our esteemed Chinese customers, partners and the general public," a statement from Intel said, reports Nikkei.
The U.S. Senate recently passed legislation banning imports from Xinjiang, which means that Intel cannot import products with components sourced from Xinjiang to the U.S. As a result, while Intel had to apologize in China, it will still be unable to change the policy as it certainly wants to sell its products in the USA. Meanwhile, Chinese authorities say that the Xinjiang controversy was started by the U.S. as a part of the ongoing trade war with China.
Some of the Chinese commentators already called for the country to fine Intel for 'offending China.' "This company must abide by American laws but still wants to make money in China, we can’t replace them at the moment but we can fine them," the Financial Times quoted one Weibo commentator as saying. "Let's fine them billions at a time and use the money for R&D."