Sri Lankan-born Canadian and American venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya sparked criticism online after saying “nobody cares” about the Uyghurs in China.
The billionaire investor, who owns 10% of the NBA Golden State Warriors basketball team, made remarks about the Uyghurs during an episode of “All-In,” a podcast he co-hosts, according to CNBC.
The Uyghurs, an ethnic minority group living in China’s Xinjiang Province, have reportedly been subjected by the Chinese government to imprisonment, as well as “intense surveillance, religious restrictions, forced labor, and forced sterilizations,” according to the independent, nonpartisan membership organization Council on Foreign Relations. China has denied all claims of alleged abuse in Xinjiang.
“His [President Biden’s] China policy, the fact that he came out with a statement on the Uyghurs, I thought it was very strong,” Calanis said.
Palihapitiya replied, “Let’s be honest, nobody, nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs, OK? You bring it up because you really care.”
When Calacanis asked Palihapitiya about what he meant, Palihapitiya doubled down, saying, “The rest of us don’t care. I’m just telling you a very hard truth.”
Palihapitiya added that the Uyghurs’ concerns are far from all the things he cares about, which include climate change, supply chain problems, the U.S. healthcare system and the possible economic fallout should China invade Taiwan.
“If you’re asking me, do 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 over us and I think a lot of people believe that,” he said.
“Every time I say that I care about the Uyghurs, I’m really just lying if I don’t really care,” he added. “And so, I’d rather not lie to you and tell you the truth, it’s not a priority for me.”
On Monday, the Golden State Warriors’ official Twitter account posted a tweet stating that Palihapitiya “does not speak on behalf of our franchise, and his views certainly don’t reflect those of our organization.”
Palihapitiya also took to Twitter on Monday to address the issue, acknowledging how he could have come across as “lacking empathy.”
“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,” he wrote. “To be clear, my belief is that human rights matter, whether in China, the United States, or elsewhere. Full stop.”