‘National interests trump everything’: Singer Wang cuts ties with Intel, sides with Xi over Xinjiang issue

Intel faces mounting criticism in China after it asked suppliers not to use Xinjiang labor or products.

The lead singer of one of China’s most popular boy bands has severed ties with Intel Corp., the first concrete backlash against the US chipmaker after its opposition to Xinjiang labor came to light this week.

Wang Junkai, the TFBoys frontman and brand ambassador for Intel Core, will terminate all partnerships with the US company immediately, his studio said in a statement posted to social media platform Weibo Wednesday. The studio said it had repeatedly asked Intel to “express a correct stance,” but the chipmaker had yet to respond. 

“National interests trump everything!” the studio wrote in its post.

Intel faces mounting criticism in China after it asked suppliers not to use Xinjiang labor or products. The company sent a letter in December asking them not to use labor or procure goods and services sourced from the country’s far western region. Intel representatives declined to comment on Wednesday.

TFBoys have performed multiple times at CCTV’s Lunar New Year gala and at other national holiday celebrations, suggesting the band enjoys the government’s support. The 22-year-old Wang, who also goes by the English name Karry, had cut ties with Dolce & Gabbana in 2018 after the Italian brand posted a video deemed by many to denigrate Chinese people. 

Western governments including the US have accused Beijing of employing forced labor in Xinjiang, including in the cotton industry, and imposed sanctions over alleged human rights abuses. China has repeatedly dismissed the allegations as lies and retaliated with sanctions of its own. 

The Communist Party’s Global Times cited unnamed analysts as warning that while no official measures had been taken by China, the severing of ties by the pop idol “serves as a fresh warning siren” to Intel and other foreign companies that wanted to profit from the Chinese market, but were at the same time seeking to undermine the country’s core interests. 

As of Thursday morning, Wang had more than 80 million fans on Weibo. 

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