US chipmaker responds to backlash after telling its suppliers to avoid region at centre of human rights abuse allegations

Intel, which derives more than a quarter of its $80bn (£60bn) in annual revenues from the Chinese market, apologised to the people of China and its local partners on Thursday for telling suppliers to avoid the region in accordance with restrictions imposed by “multiple governments”.

“We apologize for the trouble caused to our respected Chinese customers, partners and the public,” Intel said in a post on the social media site WeChat, hours after its annual letter to suppliers was made public, prompting fury across China. “To clarify, the paragraph about Xinjiang in the letter is only for expressing the original intention of compliance and legality, not its intention or position.”

The US and Amnesty International have accused China of widespread human rights abuses in Xinjiang against the province’s majority Muslim Uyghur population, including forced labour, mass internment and torture, which Beijing denies.

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