Chamath Palihapitiya’s ‘nobody cares’ remarks on Uyghurs triggers outrage on social media



The Sri Lankan-American billionaire venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya is under fire for comments he made on a podcast dismissing human rights abuses against the Uyghurs in China.

Palihapitiya said on a recent episode of the “All-In” podcast, which he co-hosts, that “nobody cares about what’s happening” to Uyghur Muslims in the country.

This triggered massive outrage in social media for his callous and unsympathetic remarks for the Uyghurs.

Following the controversy, Chamath took to Twitter to issue a statement. “In re-listening to this week’s podcast, I recognize that I come across as lacking empathy,” Palihapitiya tweeted. “I acknowledge that entirely.”

“As a refugee, my family fled a country with its own human rights issues so this is something that is very much a part of my lived experience. To be clear, my belief is that human rights matter, whether in China, the United States, or elsewhere. Full stop,” he added.

While the 45-year-old American billionaire backtracked from his apathetic comments for the Uyghur Muslims detained at internment camps in China, he refrained from mentioning them specifically in his statement and tried to draw a moral equivalence between the United States and China.

Far from offering an honest and unconditional apology, Chamath’s anodyne tweet appeared to be a delicate balance aimed at taming the spiraling outrage as well as keeping oneself in CCP’s good books.

The controversy erupted during the discussion of President Biden’s efforts to address the plight of Uyghurs in China and its impact on the polls back in the United States.

During the podcast, Palihapitiya is a co-host, said, “Let’s be honest, nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs. You bring it up because you really care, and I think that’s nice that you care. The rest of us don’t care. I’m telling you a very hard, ugly truth. Of all the things that I care about, it is below my line.”

Chamath said his concern was more for various domestic inconveniences.

“I care about [empty shelves at grocery stores]. I care about the fact that our economy could turn on a dime if China invades Taiwan. I care about that. I care about climate change. I care about America’s crippling and decrepit health care infrastructure,” he added.

Uyghur Muslims are being subjected to unspeakable atrocities by the Chinese Communist Party. From the last few years, several reports have emerged detailing the cruel treatment meted out to Uyghur Muslims living in the restive province of Xinjiang.

According to a 2017 report by the head of the Institute of Sociology at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing considers the increasing Muslim population in Xinjiang a threat to its political hegemony.

Virgin Galactic, for which Palihapitiya is the chairman, disavowed his remarks saying, “Virgin Galactic believes that every human being is entitled to fundamental human rights. Chamath Palihapitiya’s comments do not reflect the views of Virgin Galactic and he does not speak on behalf of the company”, said a company spokesperson in a statement Tuesday, January 18.

The Golden State Warriors, of which Palihapitiya owns a minority stake, also tried to distance itself from Palihapitiya following his remarks.

“As a limited investor who has no day-to-day operating functions with the Warriors, Mr. Palihapitiya does not speak on behalf of our franchise, and his views certainly don’t reflect those of our organization,” the basketball team said in a tweet on Monday.

The Biden administration has described the abuse of Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minorities in the region as ‘widespread, state-sponsored forced labor’ and ‘mass detention.’

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.’

Biden also signed a bill that banned the importing of goods from the Xinjiang region of China unless it could be proven they were not produced with forced labor.