- Joe Tsai, the owner of the Brooklyn Nets, has come under fire for his role as executive vice chairman at Alibaba, a Chinese tech firm, which holds significant positions in two blacklisted Chinese companies.
- SenseTime and Megvii were blacklisted by the U.S. government in 2019 for developing specialized surveillance technologies that the Chinese government used to track Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities.
- Tsai has criticized others for opposing China’s agenda, while donating millions of dollars to America’s critics.
The owner of a top ten NBA team has ties to the ongoing genocide of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in China, according to an ESPN report Thursday.
Joe Tsai, the owner of the Brooklyn Nets, is also the executive vice chairman of Alibaba, a Chinese tech firm, with a significant financial stake in companies the U.S. government blacklisted for their role in supporting “a campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention and high-tech surveillance,” according to the ESPN report.
On top of serving as the executive vice chairman of Alibaba, Tsai also ran the tech firm’s investment committee, ESPN reported. On Tsai’s watch, Alibaba invested in Megvii and also helped to raise $620 million for SenseTime between 2017 and 2019.
Alibaba now controls 29.4% of Megvii and 7% of SenseTime, the ESPN report found, citing “recent financial documents.”
The Bureau of Industry and Security blacklisted the two aforementioned Chinese artificial intelligence companies in 2019 by placing them on the Entity List after determining they were “acting contrary to the foreign policy interests of the United States,” according to the agency’s ruling.
The racial profiling facial recognition technologies of Megvii and SenseTime were linked to China’s omnipresent surveillance system, according to the ESPN report.
SenseTime and Megvii have marketed surveillance systems to the Chinese government specifically developed to identify and track Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities using facial recognition technology powered by artificial intelligence, according to multiple reports.
Tsai, who met Alibaba founder Jack Ma in 1999, became a company mainstay, emerging as Ma’s second-in-command, according to the ESPN report, with more than half of Tsai’s current $8.7 billion net worth found to be related to Alibaba and the Nets’ connection with the People’s Republic of China.
The NBA itself has also purportedly benefited from Alibaba, according to the report, utilizing the Chinese tech firm’s streaming services and e-commerce platforms to share content and sell merchandise.
ESPN’s report on Tsai follows little more than a week after China’s censors allowed NBA games to resume broadcast in the communist country after a pause of 17 months. The hiatus stemmed from a now deleted tweet sent by former Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey offering support for Hong Kong protestors who opposed the 2019 Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation Bill, which would have allowed for the extradition of supposed “criminals” to China proper.
Tsai, as well as Lakers superstar, Lebron James, called out Morey for his tweet, with the Alibaba executive publishing an open letter characterizing the protestors as a “separatist movement” and even going so far as to question Morey’s ability to share his political opinions.
“What is the problem with people freely expressing their opinion? This freedom is an inherent American value and the NBA has been very progressive in allowing players and other constituents a platform to speak out on issues,” Tsai’s letter stated.
“The problem is, there are certain topics that are third-rail issues in certain countries, societies and communities,” the letter continued. “Supporting a separatist movement in a Chinese territory is one of those third-rail issues, not only for the Chinese government, but also for all citizens in China.”
However, while, on the one hand, Tsai has shielded the Chinese Communist Party from criticism, on the other hand, Tsai has financially supported critics of the U.S., having pledged tens of millions of dollars to “social justice” causes, according to the New York Post.
Neither the NBA nor Alibaba responded for comment.
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