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 owns 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 the 45 year-old Sri Lankan-born billionaire – who served as an early executive at Facebook – is now is coming under fire for stating bluntly how he does not care how China’s Uyghur Muslims have been abused.

Critics deemed it dishonest and argued that his subsequent apology via tweet was equally slammed. In a statement that didn’t mention Uyghurs, the Golden State Warriors distanced themselves also from Palihaptiya.

The NBA was then criticised for kowtowing to China and not standing up against abuses of human rights. 

Human Rights Watch believes that as many as one-million Uyghur Muslims have been held by Chinese authorities in “reeducation” camps. They have been subject to human rights abuses, including rape and slave labor. 

Palihapitiya was 45 and made the remarks while he was talking on an episode his 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, who split from his wife Brigette Lau in 2018, 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 said that he does not care about China’s violations of Uyghur Muslims.

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 (center), with Brigette Lau, his wife and other friends at a Golden State Warriors match in April 2016, is seen here. According to some reports, he owns around 10% of the team

He maintained that “Nobody is concerned about it” and that “Nobody really cares what happens to the Uyghurs.” “Of all the things that I care about, it’s below my level.” 

Jason Calacanis, a fellow host, said that he brought it up because he cares. 

“It is a difficult, ugly reality that registers below me. It’s a fact I am concerned about that the economy of Taiwan could be turned around if China invades it. Climate change is something I am concerned about. While I am concerned about America’s failing healthcare system, I will not prioritize another segment of the population until I can care for myself.

It’s something that I think many people believe. I am sorry for that. But every time I tell someone that I care about Uyghurs, I lie if it isn’t true. It isn’t a priority.

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 attempted to retract the remarks, but was further criticised 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

Palihapitiya stated in his podcast that “Nobody is interested in it” and “Nobody cares what’s happening with the Uyghurs.” Palihapitiya continued to elaborate on his views.

Palihapitiya stated that until we clean up our house the notion of us stepping outside our boundaries with others is morally virtue signaling concerning another’s human right track record, was deplorable.

‘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 topics deserve nuanced conversations. He tweeted some clarifications. 

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) is co-owner with the Warriors. She also holds 10 percent of San Francisco’s basketball team. 

How Hollywood and NBA kowtowed to China’s demands, despite the Communist regime’s abuses of human rights

The NBA’s expansion into China has caused a PR nightmare for them.

US Congressman, John McCain, called for the end of endorsements by NBA stars. The reason was that the Chinese sportingwear brands had been using cotton grown in the Xinjiang Region, the location where the internment camps were located. A bipartisan commission on China stated in a letter that it had evidence of forced labor being used for cotton production in China. Dwyane Wade and Klay Thompson were among the many NBA players who had agreements with China-based companies ANTA and Li-Ning. 

Daryl Morey, Houston Rockets general manger, resigned in 2020 after tweeting that he supported anti-Beijing protests at Hong Kong. 

China then banned the NBA broadcast on state television in China for a period of one year, and protests were held against the NBA throughout China. Morey quickly deleted the tweet, but in a statement the NBA said that the incident was “regrettable”. However, the NBA did not penalize Morey nor offer China an apology. 

NBA superstars like LeBron James took aim to Morey’s tweet regarding his stance.

Posters show Lebron James embracing a Chinese 100-yuan banknote as protesters gather at the Southern Playground in support of NBA's Houston Rockets' team general manager Daryl Morey, who sent a tweet backing the pro-democracy movement in 2019 in Hong Kong, China

Photographs show Lebron James hugging a Chinese 100-yuan note as protesters gather in the Southern Playground for Daryl Morey’s Houston Rockets team general manager. Morey sent a tweet supporting the 2019 pro-democracy movement, which was based in Hong Kong, China.

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

Dwyane Wade (retired NBA player) and Gabrielle Union (wife Gabrielle Union) attend the Li-Ning Menswear Autumn/Winter 2020-2021 event as part Paris Fashion Week, January 18th 2020 in Paris

‘I’m not here to judge how the league handled the situation,’ James said last July. I just think that, when you’re misinformed or you’re not educated about something – and I’m just talking about the tweet itself – you never know the ramifications that can happen.’

“We all know what it did to our league, and all Americans, as well as people from China. You have to be careful about what you are saying that could cause you harm, as well as the majority of others. I think that’s just a prime example of that.’

According to Adam Silver, NBA commissioner, it lost $400 million in Chinese businesses and was criticised in America for what it perceived as kowtowing towards the communist regime. 

The NBA announced in July 2020 that it would be reevaluating its China training program following claims of harassment and abuse by foreign staff at a facility located in Xinjiang.

Adam Silver (the NBA commissioner) stated in September that NBA’s ongoing engagement with China continues to have a “net positive” impact on understanding between America and China.

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.

Dwyane, a former NBA All-Star, has a lifetime contract with Li-Ning. Klay Thomson is an injured Golden State Warriors Guard and has a contract through ANTA.

“Players continue to sign new contracts with Anta Sports,” the letter of Senator Jeff Merkley, and Representative Jim McGovern said.

“We think that commercial relations with companies that source cotton from Xinjiang pose reputational risks to NBA players and the NBA themselves,” they added, noting the fact that the U.S. government has determined that the Chinese government is committing genocide in Xinjiang as well as crimes against humanity and prohibited imports.

According to the letter, ‘The NBA should not implicitly endorse such horrible human rights abuses’.

Reporting since 2018, the commission stated that authorities had forced minority Muslims to work in Xinjiang. Furthermore, there were credible indications that forced labor was present in Xinjiang’s 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), Golden State Warriors, meets fans at an Anta promotional function on September 8, 2019, in Nanjing

The American movie industry, which has invested a lot of money over the years in struggling Hollywood film studios, has been careful to protect its relationships with China. 

But, China has been quick to block American media that they consider offensive. This includes content and how it is presented. To ensure they are correct, US studios consult Chinese “taste experts” to make sure it is. This practice is illustrated by:

-The filmmakers thanked eight departments of government in the province of Xinjiang for their 2020 remake of 1998’s animated Disney movie Mulan. This was where they found the internement camps. It was also criticised for depicting the villains in the film as clans of assassins wearing turbans and dark skins, which would be reminiscent of Uighur populations to Chinese viewers.

Top Gun, a 1986 film that censored the Japanese and Taiwan flags on Tom Cruises’s jacket in an attempt to offend Chinese audiences, was called Top Gun.

Tilda Swanton was the Anglo-British actor in Doctor Stranger 2016. She played a Celtic monk instead of a Tibetan one to keep it from being offensively stereotyped.

Iron Man, a 2013 movie, featured new scenes featuring Chinese doctors desperately trying to save Robert Downey Jr.’s life. 

In films like Star Trek: Beyond and Alien: Covenant, LGBTQ content was removed. Skyfall and Mission: Impossible also removed scenes of Chinese citizens being killed. 

Major studios in Hollywood now live in dread of offending China. Disney, Hollywood’s biggest film studio, is today squirming over its own embarrassing kowtowing to China with its new blockbuster Mulan

Hollywood’s major studios are now afraid of offending China. Disney, Hollywood’s biggest film studio, is today squirming over its own embarrassing kowtowing to China with its new blockbuster Mulan 

“I realize that my lack of empathy is evident when I relisten to the podcast this week. That is something I fully acknowledge. Because my family fled as refugees from a country where there were human rights concerns, this part of my life experience is very relevant. For clarity, I believe that human rights are important, in China as well as the United States. He said, “Full stop.”

Users on Twitter were not able to decide whether to accept his initial comments or his follow-up statement, which was accused by some of his followers as sounding too much like it had come from a PR rep.  

Matt Gormon responded to the statement, “The sad thing is that this took 10 hours” and cost tens or thousands of dollars in crisis communications to write.” 

Ed Carson, business journalist wrote, “Wow! @Chamarth is dumping his pro–genocide declaration faster than he sells his SPACs.”

Rebecca Downs, author, tweeted that it was a lack of empathy. She also said it involved the most intense mental gymnastics.

Noah Blum demanded that Noah Blum scream, “Say Uyghurs! You coward!” 

Another Twitter user commented, “What a ridiculous attempt at…not even sure what your trying to accomplish, given this video,”  

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

Users on Twitter were not happy with his initial comments or his follow up statement.

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

Palihapitiya, who owns 10% of the San Francisco Basketball team and has invested $25 Million in 2010 in their investment, issued their own response to Palihapitiya’s remarks.

Palihapitiya, who owns 10% of the San Francisco basketball team and has invested $25 Million in 2010 in their capital, issued a statement distancing himself from his comments.

“As a limited investor with no daily operating functions for the Warriors, Mr. Palihapitiya doesn’t speak for our franchise and his views don’t necessarily reflect our organization’s,” the statement said. 

Palihapitiya led Virgin Galactic’s public takeover in 2019. He later sold his stake for approximately US$213 million. He continues to serve as Chairman of Virgin Galactic’s Board of Directors, although a petition has been launched advocating for his removal 

In 2019, Palihapitiya helped take Virgin Galactic public later selling his personal stake Virgin Galactic for around US$213 million. He continues to serve as Chairman of Virgin Galactic’s Board of Directors and is pictured here with Virgin Galactic co-founder Sir Richard Branson

Palihapitiya led Virgin Galactic’s public launch in 2019, later selling his own stake for US$213million. He continues to serve as Chairman of Virgin Galactic’s Board of Directors and is pictured here with Virgin Galactic co-founder Sir Richard Branson

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 has estimated that Chinese authorities may have held up to one million Uyghur Muslims under’reeducation’ camps, where they were subjected o human rights abuses like rape or slave labor (file photo).

Biden’s administration described Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities as victims of state-sponsored forced labor and mass detention.

Last month, The White House announced a diplomatic boycott against the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. This was due to ‘ongoing genocide in Xinjiang, as well as other human rights violations’. 

Biden signed a bill banning imports of goods from China’s Xinjiang area unless they can be shown to not have been made with forced labor. 

China has denied all accusations of Uyghur violence. 

China has long been the most important market for NBA, and its standing there has declined sharply since Daryl Morey (then-Houston Rockets general manger) expressed support for democracy protests in Hong Kong. In addition, Beijing’s state TV pulled NBA games from its channels.

Tencent, a Chinese streaming company, dropped the team and also stopped live broadcasts from the Philadelphia 76ers games after Morey changed franchises.  

Anti-NBA demonstrations followed on both the mainland China where LeBron James was attacked by fans, as well as among Hong Kong protestors. 

Chinese-Americans began to wear pro-Hong Kong clothing for preseason games in the USA, protesting Beijing’s regime. James was also attacked by anti-Beijing demonstrators in Hong Kong, who used his image as memes and burned his jersey. 

According to Adam Silver, NBA commissioner, it lost $400 million in Chinese businesses and was criticised in America for what it perceived as kowtowing towards the communist regime.  

NBA did not punish Morey.  

Enes Kanti, Center for Boston Celtics, criticized the Chinese government’s treatment of Uyghurs.  

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.'

The White House has announced a diplomatic boycott against the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. This was due to Xinjiang’s ongoing genocide and crimes versus humanity and other human rights abuses.