Silicon Valley billionaire Chamath Palihapitiya condemned for Uyghur comments

NBA's Golden State Warriors minority owner Chamath Palihapitiya said China's abuse of the Uyghur minority group ‘is below my line’

Jade Bremner
Tuesday 18 January 2022 15:40
Comments
Silicon Valley billionaire sparks outrage over Uyghur comments

The founder and CEO of Social Capital, which aims to "advance humanity by solving the world’s hardest problems," has come under fire for saying "nobody cares about what's happening to the Uyghurs".

Venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya, 45, a former senior executive of Facebook who is worth $1.2bn, made the comment while speaking on the All-In technology podcast. Mr Palihapitiya is also a minority owner in the NBA team the Golden State Warriors.

Human Rights Watch has said that "the Chinese government has committed – and continues to commit – crimes against humanity against the Turkic Muslim population.” In a recent report, the organisation outlined instances of violations of international law, including imprisonment, enforced disappearance, torture, murder, plus forced labour and sexual violence.

"What? What do you mean nobody cares?" said the podcast's co-host Jason Calacanis.

Mr Palihapitiya doubled down on his comments when asked about them. "Of all the things I care about it is below my line," he said.

"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 Mr Calacanis.

"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 prioritise 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."

The Sri Lanka-born billionaire, whose family fled to the US after human rights issues, continued to say that we are "virtue signalling" if we don't sort out problems at home first.

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

"Human rights in the US is way more important to me than human rights anywhere else on the globe," said Palihapitiya.

His comments were heavily criticised by podcast listeners and social media users: "Don't forget there are some who sell their soul for money," said one Twitter user.

"I am Uyghur myself. Chinese government sentenced my mom to 10 years, my two brothers Adil and Tursun to 10-15 years in prison and they forced my wife to divorce me and I can’t speak to my 10-year-old daughter," wrote another user.

Chamath Palihapitiya later tweeted that after re-listening to this week's podcast: "I recognise that I come across as lacking empathy. I acknowledge that entirely," he wrote. "To be clear, my belief is that human rights matter, whether in China, the United States, or elsewhere. Full stop.

The Independent has contacted Chamath Palihapitiya for further comment.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in