American chipmaker Intel is facing a huge backlash in China after conservative Chinese media on Tuesday discovered Intel had asked suppliers not to use “any labor or source goods or services from the Xinjiang region.”
Pro-government nationalist news site Guancha.cn accused the chipmaker of committing “the biggest offense to the Chinese market” by citing Western governments’ “vilification of ‘forced labor’" in Xinjiang. Nationalistic Weibo users have swarmed to Intel’s official Weibo account to express their condemnation. A hashtag on the event has attracted more than 270 million views on Weibo. A Chinese Intel brand ambassador promptly announced he was ending his partnership with the chipmaker in light of the controversy.Multinationals in China are increasingly stuck between political forces and facing boycotts over their stances on forced labor and human rights abuse in Xinjiang. Intel was not the first target of Chinese nationalists. In March, pro-Beijing media and ultra-nationalists on Chinese social media led widespread boycotts against a spate of major Western apparel brands, such as H&M and Nike, which had expressed concerns about the alleged use of forced labor to produce cotton in Xinjiang.