After Intel has faced backlash from China over its appeal to not use labour or goods and services from the region, the US chipmaker has deleted reference to Chinese province of Xinjiang from a letter to its suppliers.
Intel was heavily criticised last month after the appeal to its suppliers. The letter sent last month said that Intel 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”.
On Tuesday, this reference was not present in the page. The letter now states that Intel prohibits “any human trafficked or involuntary labour such as forced, debt bonded, prison, indentured, or slave labour throughout your extended supply chains.”
China faces global pressure over its treatment of Uyghur Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. There are also allegations of forced labour which China denies. Huge companies, especially in the tech sector have had to do a ropewalk between US laws and their own presence in China, a huge market.
Intel’s deletion of any reference to Xinjiang in its annual letter to suppliers, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, was criticised by US Senator Marco Rubio.
“Intel’s cowardice is yet another predictable consequence of economic reliance on China,” Rubio said in a statement on Monday.
“Instead of humiliating apologies and self-censorship, companies should move their supply chains to countries that do not use slave labour or commit genocide.”
Rubio was one of four U.S. politicians who introduced the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act last month calling for a ban on imports from Xinjiang over allegations of forced labour there. On Dec. 23, U.S. President Joe Biden signed the act into law.