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American Corporate Walks Back its Statement on Forced Labor Following Outrage in China

12/23/2021 China (International Christian Concern) – The American chipmaker, Intel, has released an apology in China for its earlier statement informing its suppliers to avoid using forced labor in compliance with government requirements, most notably the U.S. 

In Intel’s released statement, the U.S. corporation reassured its Chinese audience, “the paragraph about Xinjiang in the letter is only for expressing the original intention of compliance and legality, not its intention or position.” The company is walking back on an earlier statement which informed its Chinese suppliers of the need to avoid products being sourced with forced labor following the U.S. Senate’s passage of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. This bill puts an import ban on all goods coming from China’s Xinjiang region, unless it can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it is free of forced labor, particularly that being sourced from its internment of Uyghur Muslims. 

This apology comes following outrage from China and Chinese media who deny any wrongdoing in Xinjiang. China has consistently kept that their activity in Xinjiang is being mischaracterized for political points in western countries, even when shown direct evidence and footage. 

While many national governments, intergovernmental organizations, and human rights groups have made their disdain for China’s treatment of the Uyghur ethnic and religious minorities public, many corporations have not followed suit. Many are still in denial or remain silent on the situation for fear of jeopardizing their Chinese market access. 

Commentators continue to investigate whether outside governments are playing an effective role in deterring Chinese behavior, or if the continued profits from multi-national firms rule it ineffective. Multiple western powers, including the U.S., Australia, and the U.K. have all taken public stands to condemn this activity in China, including boycotts of the upcoming Beijing Olympics, however, China has made no sign of being threatened by such action. This commitment to challenge China’s ongoing persecution and genocide through the Olympics has not been shared by many western corporations and advertisers, who will continue to profit through its wide engagement in the Chinese market. Knowing where China has room to profit, former Ambassador-at-large for religious freedom, Sam Brownback, has called for an advertising boycott earlier this month unless China commits to a date to close their internment camps. 

A united front will be needed to push back on China’s human rights abuses where it will hurt. Targeting their pocketbook is one critical area where China will respond and western companies must dig deep and commit to standing up for what is right, even when it is a world away.

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