A CEO whose company aims to “advance humanity by solving the world’s hardest problems” said “nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs,” a Muslim minority group facing potential genocide in China.
Chamath Palihapitiya is also a co-owner of a NBA team, the Golden State Warriors – and the NBA has recently courted controversy over its relationship to China.
“Nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs okay?” Palihapitiya told podcaster David Sacks, who was shocked by the statement. “You bring it up because you really care, and I think it’s nice that you care, but… the rest of us don’t care.”
Owner of the @warriors🏀 says he doesn’t care about the Uyghurs.
The conversation goes downhill from there.@chamath…
– questions whether a genocide is actually happening
– says the CCP isn’t a dictatorship
– says the US is no better than the CCP pic.twitter.com/qAwi7hUPvo
— Michael Sobolik (@michaelsobolik) January 17, 2022
A lot of people do care given the intense backlash Palihapitiya is now facing, with critics pointing out that the Sri Lanka-born billionaire had to flee to Canada as a child to escape human rights issues the Uyghurs are now facing in China.
Palihapitiya continued to say that “not until we can take care of ourselves will I prioritize them over us,” but critics likewise blasted this statement as a false dilemma, noting that its possible to care about the Uyghurs while also caring about issues in America.
In response to the controversy, Palihapitiya released a statement declaring that “human rights matter” but stopped short of actually apologizing, which further fueled the controversy.
Important issues deserve nuanced discussions. Some clarifying comments: pic.twitter.com/St2jccsu05
— Chamath Palihapitiya (@chamath) January 18, 2022
“What an non-apology. There is not even a mention of the word ‘Uyghur,’” said Yaqiu Wang, a senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch.
The Warriors, however, distanced themselves from their co-owner, going as far as calling Palihapitiya a “limited investor” who has “no day-to-day operating functions” with the team.
“Mr. Palihapitiya does not speak on behalf of our franchise, and his views certainly don’t reflect those of our organization,” the team stated.
Palihapitiya is the CEO and founder of Social Capital, a company whose mission, according to its web site, is to “advance humanity by solving the world’s hardest problems.”