WASHINGTON — Billionaire investor Chamath Palihapitiya sparked a backlash on social media after he said on a recent episode of his podcast that “no one cares” about the ongoing human rights abuses against Uyghurs in China.
During a 90-minute episode, Palihapitiya told co-host Jason Calacanis about their All-Inclusive Podcast that he would be lying if he said he cared about Uyghurs, an ethnic Muslim minority in Xinjiang, northwest China.
“Whenever I say I care about Uyghurs, I really lie if I don’t really care. And so, I’d rather not lie to you and tell you the truth, that’s not a priority for me said Palihapitiya, a venture capitalist who owns 10% of the Golden State Warriors NBA team.
The team wrote in a statement Monday that Palihapitiya “does not speak for our franchise, and his views certainly do not reflect those of our organization.”
The duo first started talking about Uyghurs when Calacanis praised President Joe Biden’s foreign policy approach to China.
For months, the Biden administration previously described abuses of Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minorities in the region as “widespread state-sponsored forced labor” and “mass detention”. The Biden administration has also warned companies with supply chain and investment ties to Xinjiang that they could face legal consequences.
In July, that warning was manifested in a joint advisory from the Departments of State, Treasury, Commerce, Homeland Security, and Labor, as well as the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. The sharpest line of the Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Consulting states that “companies and individuals who do not exit Xinjiang-related supply chains, businesses, and/or investments could be at high risk of violating U.S. law.”
The Chinese government has previously denied any wrongdoing or human rights violations in Xinjiang.
About 15 minutes into the podcast, Calacanis highlighted steps taken by the Biden administration to curb and address massive human rights abuses in China when the following conversation ensued:
Calacanis: His [President Biden’s] The Chinese policy, the fact that he made a statement about the Uyghurs, I thought that was very strong.
You know, it’s one of the strongest things he’s done, but it doesn’t show up in the polls.
Palihapitiya: Let’s be honest, nobody, nobody cares what happens to the Uyghurs, okay? You talk about it because you really care. And I think it’s really good that you care, but…
Calacanis: What? What do you mean, nobody cares?
Palihapitiya: The rest of us don’t care. I’m just telling you a very hard truth.
Calacanis: Wait, you personally don’t care?
Palihapitiya: I’m telling you a very hard truth, okay? Of all the things that are close to my heart. Yes, it’s below my line. Okay, of all the things I care about, it’s below my line.
Palihapitiya went on to say he cares about supply chain issues, climate change, the crippled US healthcare system as well as the potential economic fallout from a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.
Palihapitiya did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
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.” .
Governments, civil society groups and United Nations officials have previously expressed concern over harsh measures taken by Beijing to crack down on those who criticize the Chinese Communist Party.