One of First Lady Jill Biden's guests for the State of the Union address on Tuesday is the top executive at Intel, the tech giant that sponsored the Beijing Olympics and apologized to the Chinese government for criticizing its human rights abuses.
Intel CEO Patrick Gelsinger will join Biden and several other guests in her viewing box for the speech. In a press release announcing the guests, the White House touted Intel's plans to build a $20 billion semiconductor manufacturing facility outside Columbus, Ohio, later this year.
While Intel has garnered praise from the White House, the company has been accused of turning a blind eye to China's human rights atrocities. Intel resisted calls to pull out of a sponsorship deal for the Beijing Olympics over China's genocide of Muslim Uyghurs in Western China.
Intel came under fire late last year for apologizing to the Chinese government after telling suppliers the company would avoid buying goods from Xinjiang, where the Chinese government imprisons hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs in internment camps. Gelsinger defended the company's capitulation to Beijing, saying in January that Intel was wrong to call out labor abuses in the Xinjiang region because of issues in other parts of the globe.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) called Intel's accommodation of Beijing "startling."
"An objective observer could reasonably assume that your company will look away from human rights abuses if acknowledging them risks provoking the ire of a major commercial interest," Hawley wrote in a letter to Gelsinger.
The Washington Free Beacon reported that Intel lobbied Congress to soften the Uyghur Forced Labor Protection Act, a bill aimed at banning American companies from using forced labor in Xinjiang. Apple and Coca-Cola, another Olympics sponsor, lobbied against the bill as well.
Last week, President Joe Biden hosted another American company with close ties to China at a White House event. Biden announced that the Pentagon would award $35 million to MP Materials, a Las Vegas-mining company that is partially owned by China's Shenghe Resources Holding. Shenghe, which is partially owned by the Chinese government, bought a stake in MP Materials in order to maintain access to the firm's rare earth minerals at its mine in California.