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A venture capitalist whose fund’s mission is ‘to advance humanity by solving the world’s hardest problems’ has said he doesn’t care about the human rights abuses facing China’s Uyghur population.

Chamath Palihapitiya, who a minority stake in the NBA‘s Golden State Warriors basketball team worked at Facebook before his departure in 2011 to set up his venture capital fund, Social Capital.

But he is now is coming under fire for stating bluntly how he does not care how China‘s Uyghur Muslims have been abused.

His subsequent apology via a tweet was also roundly attacked after with critics deeming it mealy-mouthed.

Human Rights Watch estimates that Chinese authorities have detained as many as one million Uyghur Muslims in ‘re-education’ camps where they have been subjected to human-rights abuses including slave labor, rape and forced sterilizations. 

Palihapitiya, 45, made the comments while speaking on an episode of his technology podcast, All-In.

‘Nobody cares about it, nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs,’ the Silicon Valley billionaire said. 

When challenged by his co-hosts about his statement, Palihapitiya only dug in further. 

Silicon Valley billionaire Chamath Palihapitiya has said he doesn't care about China's human rights abuses of Uyghur Muslims in the country

Silicon Valley billionaire Chamath Palihapitiya has said he doesn't care about China's human rights abuses of Uyghur Muslims in the country

Silicon Valley billionaire Chamath Palihapitiya has said he doesn’t care about China’s human rights abuses of Uyghur Muslims in the country

Chamath Palihapitiya (center) attends a Golden State Warriors game with wife Brigette Lau and friends in April 2016. He is said to own around 10 percent of the team

Chamath Palihapitiya (center) attends a Golden State Warriors game with wife Brigette Lau and friends in April 2016. He is said to own around 10 percent of the team

Chamath Palihapitiya (center) attends a Golden State Warriors game with wife Brigette Lau and friends in April 2016. He is said to own around 10 percent of the team

‘Nobody cares about it, nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs,’ he insisted. ‘Of all the things I care about it is below my line.’ 

‘You bring it up because you really care, and I think that’s nice that you care, the rest of us don’t care,’ he told fellow host Jason Calacanis. 

‘It’s a hard ugly truth that registers below my line. I care about the fact that our economy could turn on a dime if China invades Taiwan. I care about climate change. I care about America’s decrepit healthcare infrastructure, but if you’re asking me if I care about a segment of a class of people in another country, not until we can take care of ourselves will I prioritize them.

‘I think a lot of people believe that and I’m sorry if that’s a hard truth to hear but every time I say that I’m caring about the Uyghurs I’m really just lying if I don’t really care, so I’d rather not lie to you and tell you the truth. It’s not a priority for me.’

But Palihapitiya wasn’t finished as he continued with his rant: 

Palihapitiya then attempted to walk back the remarks but was then further criticized for 'lacking empathy'

Palihapitiya then attempted to walk back the remarks but was then further criticized for 'lacking empathy'

Palihapitiya then attempted to walk back the remarks but was then further criticized for ‘lacking empathy’

'Nobody cares about it, nobody cares about what's happening to the Uyghurs,' he said during his podcast. Palihapitiya went on to clarify his view in detail

'Nobody cares about it, nobody cares about what's happening to the Uyghurs,' he said during his podcast. Palihapitiya went on to clarify his view in detail

‘Nobody cares about it, nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs,’ he said during his podcast. Palihapitiya went on to clarify his view in detail

‘Until we actually clean up our own house, the idea that we step outside of our borders with us sort of like morally virtue signaling about somebody else’s human rights track record is deplorable,’ Palihapitiya said.

‘Human rights in the US is way more important to me than human rights anywhere else on the globe,’ said Palihapitiya, who was born in Sri Lanka, adding that he felt a  responsibility to fix the issues of his adopted country. 

His comments were quickly seized upon, leading to Palihapitiya to put a statement online in a desperate attempt to clarify his comments saying he recognized that he came across as ‘lacking empathy.’ 

‘Important issues deserve nuanced discussions. Some clarifying comments,’ he tweeted. 

Palihapitiya, a venture capitalist and is co-owner of the Warriors and owns 10 percent of the San Francisco basketball team

Palihapitiya, a venture capitalist and is co-owner of the Warriors and owns 10 percent of the San Francisco basketball team

Palihapitiya, a venture capitalist and is co-owner of the Warriors and owns 10 percent of the San Francisco basketball team 

NBA and China: A delicate balance

The NBA’s standing in China, which has been its most important overseas market, deteriorated sharply after late 2019 when then-Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey expressed support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and Beijing’s state television pulled NBA games off its channels.

Anti-NBA protests followed in both mainland China, where fans took aim at LeBron James, and among Hong Kong protesters. 

In the US, Chinese-American fans began wearing pro-Hong Kong apparel to preseason games while protesting the regime in Beijing. Similarly, the anti-Beijing protestors in Hong Kong also took aim at James, using his image in memes and burning his jersey. 

In the end, the NBA lost about $400 million in Chinese business, according to league commissioner Adam Silver, and faced criticism in the US for its perceived kowtowing to the communist regime.  

Morey was never punished by the NBA.  

In July 2020 the NBA said it was re-evaluating its training program in China following allegations of abuse of young players by local staff and harassment of foreign staffers at a facility in Xinjiang.

The NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, subsequently said in September that the NBA’s long-standing engagement in China continued to have a ‘net positive’ impact on the mutual understanding between the United States and the Communist nation.

Last June a U.S. congressional commission called on American basketball stars to end endorsements of Chinese sportswear firms that use cotton grown in China’s Xinjiang region, warning against complicity in forced labor they say takes place there.

In a letter to the National Basketball Players Association, the chairs of the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China said more than a dozen NBA players had deals with the China-based ANTA, Li-Ning and Peak sportswear firms prior to the publication of recent Western media articles saying the companies had proclaimed continued use of Xinjiang cotton.

Retired NBA star Dwyane Wade and wife Gabrielle Union attend the Li-Ning Menswear Fall/Winter 2020-2021 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on January 18, 2020 in Paris

Retired NBA star Dwyane Wade and wife Gabrielle Union attend the Li-Ning Menswear Fall/Winter 2020-2021 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on January 18, 2020 in Paris

Retired NBA star Dwyane Wade and wife Gabrielle Union attend the Li-Ning Menswear Fall/Winter 2020-2021 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on January 18, 2020 in Paris

Retired NBA All-Star Dwyane Wade has a lifetime deal with Li-Ning, while injured Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson has a contract with ANTA.

‘Players have continued to sign new deals with Anta Sports,’ the letter from Senator Jeff Merkley and Representative Jim McGovern added.

‘We believe that commercial relationships with companies that source cotton in Xinjiang create reputational risks for NBA players and the NBA itself,’ they said, noting that the U.S. government had determined that the Chinese government was committing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and barred imports of cotton from the region.

‘The NBA and NBA players should not even implicitly be endorsing such horrific human rights abuses,’ the letter said.

The commission said reporting since 2018 had revealed that authorities in Xinjiang had systematically forced minority Muslims to engage in forced labor and there was credible evidence that forced labor existed in Xinjiang cotton production. 

Klay Thompson (left) of the Golden State Warriors meets fans during an Anta promotional event on September 8, 2019 in Nanjing

Klay Thompson (left) of the Golden State Warriors meets fans during an Anta promotional event on September 8, 2019 in Nanjing

Klay Thompson (left) of the Golden State Warriors meets fans during an Anta promotional event on September 8, 2019 in Nanjing

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‘In re-listening to this week’s podcast, I recognize that I come across as lacking empathy. I acknowledge that entirely. As a refugee, my family fled a country with its own set of human rights issues so this is something that is very much a part of my lived experience. To be clear, my belief is that human rights matter, whether in China, the United States, or elsewhere. Full stop,’ he wrote.

Neither his original comments nor his follow-up statement – which was accused of sounding like it had been written by a PR representative – sat will with users on Twitter.  

‘The sad part is this took 10 hours and tens of thousands of $$ in crisis comms to help write,’ said Matt Gormon in response to the statement. 

‘Wow, @Chamarth dumping his pro-genocide statement faster than he sells out of his SPACs,’ wrote business journalist Ed Carson.

‘Absolutely lacks empathy, and involving the most intense mental gymnastics too,’ tweeted author Rebecca Downs.

‘Say Uyghurs, you whatabouting coward,’ demanded Noah Blum. 

‘What a pathetic attempt at … not even sure what you’re trying to do, given the video,’ another Twitter user wrote.  

Neither his original comments nor his follow-up statement sat will with users on Twitter

Neither his original comments nor his follow-up statement sat will with users on Twitter

Neither his original comments nor his follow-up statement sat will with users on Twitter

The San Francisco basketball team, of which Palihapitiya owns 10 percent having invested $25 million in 2010, issued their own statement in response to their co-owner's comments

The San Francisco basketball team, of which Palihapitiya owns 10 percent having invested $25 million in 2010, issued their own statement in response to their co-owner's comments

The San Francisco basketball team, of which Palihapitiya owns 10 percent having invested $25 million in 2010, issued their own statement in response to their co-owner’s comments

The San Francisco basketball team, of which Palihapitiya owns 10 percent having invested $25 million in 2010, issued their own statement in response to their co-owner’s comments, distancing themselves from him.

‘As a limited investor who has no day-to-day operating functions with the Warriors, Mr. Palihapitiya does not speak on behalf of our franchise, and his views certainly don’t reflect those of our organization,’ the statement read.  

The Biden administration has described the abuse of Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minorities in the region as ‘widespread, state-sponsored forced labor’ and ‘mass detention.’ 

Human Rights Watch estimates that Chinese authorities have detained as many as one million Uyghur Muslims in 're-education' camps where they have been subjected to human-rights abuses including slave labor, rape and forced sterilizations (file photo)

Human Rights Watch estimates that Chinese authorities have detained as many as one million Uyghur Muslims in 're-education' camps where they have been subjected to human-rights abuses including slave labor, rape and forced sterilizations (file photo)

Human Rights Watch estimates that Chinese authorities have detained as many as one million Uyghur Muslims in ‘re-education’ camps where they have been subjected to human-rights abuses including slave labor, rape and forced sterilizations (file photo)

Last month, the White House announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, citing ‘ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses.’ 

Biden also signed a bill that banned the importing of goods from the Xinjiang region of China unless it could be proven they were not produced with forced labor. 

China denies all allegations of abuse against its Uyghur population.

The NBA is extremely popular in China but has faced a backlash in the country when players have called out human rights in the country.

Center for the Boston Celtics, Enes Kanter, criticized the Chinese government over its treatment of the Uyghur people. 

Daryl Morey, the former general manager of the Houston Rockets, tweeted his support for protesters in Hong Kong. The team was subsequently dropped by the Chinese streaming giant Tencent.

It also ended live broadcasts of the Philadelphia 76ers games when Morey switched franchises.  

Last month, the White House announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, citing 'ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses.'

Last month, the White House announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, citing 'ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses.'

Last month, the White House announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, citing ‘ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses.’

Source: Daily Mail

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