US Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has threatened the government funding of chipmaker Intel after the company made what Rubio described as “humiliating apologies” to China.
Intel last December apologized to its Chinese partners and the Chinese public after noting in a routine letter to suppliers that it would not use “labor or goods or services from the Xinjiang region”. This provision is required by US law as part of trade sanctions against China due to the continued persecution of the Uyghur people in the Xinjiang region (which the US government has labeled genocide). However, Intel’s letter to suppliers went viral in China, sparking a massive public outcry against the company.
As first reported by The edge last year, Intel not only publicly apologized but also removed all references to Xinjiang from its website. When asked about this removal, Intel’s senior director of corporate comms, William Moss, told: The edge: “We’ve adjusted some language based on stakeholder concerns to focus on broadly and globally applicable principles and policies, consistent with our general practice.”
In response to Intel’s actions, Rubio issued a statement Monday:
“Intel’s cowardice is yet another predictable consequence of its economic dependence on China. Instead of humiliating apologies and self-censorship, companies should move their supply chains to countries that do not use slave labor or commit genocide. If companies like Intel continue to cover up the facts about US law just to appease the Chinese Communist Party, they should not be eligible for any funding under the CHIPS law.”
The CHIPS Act is a response to the global shortage of semiconductors and the declining ability of the United States to manufacture these essential components. CHIPS was passed last year as part of the annual military funding bill (the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA), with the Senate authorizing $52 billion in federal investment to go into “domestic semiconductor research, design and manufacturing facilities.” That funding is only speculative at this point, however, as despite widespread bipartisan support, legislation is currently stalled in Congress. That means Rubio’s threat to Intel is in itself only hypothetical.