Intel’s apology underlines China dilemma

An Intel Tiger Lake chip is displayed at an Intel news conference during the 2020 CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. January 6, 2020.

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NEW YORK, Dec 23 (Reuters Breakingviews) – U.S. chipmaker Intel (INTC.O) is the latest multinational company to struggle with the geopolitics of doing business in China. The $207 billion technology group had to say sorry read more to defuse a social media backlash in the People’s Republic after telling suppliers they could not use products or labor from the Xinjiang region.

The company backtracked with a Chinese-language statement on Thursday saying it was complying with U.S. law rather than expressing Intel’s position on the issue. America and other Western countries have accused China of human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

Intel’s stance is mealy-mouthed. But U.S. companies operating in China can’t be seen to take sides. Fashion chain H&M (HMb.ST) saw PRC sales fall 28% year-on-year in its 2021 second quarter after its statements about Xinjiang triggered a boycott. More than a quarter of Intel’s $78 billion of sales in 2020 came from customers in China. Even $2.9 trillion Apple (AAPL.O) has to walk a tightrope read more between Washington and Beijing. One day, one of the giants will fall off. (By Richard Beales)

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Editing by Lauren Silva Laughlin and Sharon Lam

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Elida Grisby