back to article Big shock: Guy who fled political violence and became rich in tech now struggles to care about political violence

Billionaire tech investor and ex-Facebook senior executive Chamath Palihapitiya was publicly blasted after he said nobody really cares about the reported human rights abuse of Uyghur Muslims in China. The blunt comments were made during the latest episode of All-In, a podcast in which Palihapitiya chats to investors and …

  1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    The land of the "free"

    Daryl Morey, president of basketball operations of the Philadelphia 76ers team, for example, apologized when he tweeted in support of protests in Hong Kong in 2019.
    Just once I'd like someone in this situation to stand up for their beliefs and say "You know what? You can sack me if you like, but I'm not apologising for opposing human rights violations."

    I know it's all too easy for me to say, but it would be nice, every now and then, for someone's beliefs to come before money.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The land of the "free"

      The Big guy was right, no-one truly cares about the Uighurs, proof : the Olympics are going ahead as planned, so the Governements don't care and society continues to buy "Made In China" because it's better for their pockets. The information should the first page of all media outlets until smething is truly done about this aboration, but western society is scared of China so nothing is done,

      It's a serious offense to use a biological pronoun but it's fine to let an entire population live in misery just as long as a Amazon can provide more tat.... This is what society has become.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Too true

        You may not like it, but it is a fact that the oppression of the Uighurs is known and there has been zero protests in the streets anywhere.

        So, basically, that billionaire is indeed telling the truth, it's just that we don't like looking at that particular angle of ourselves.

        And I'm as guilty as the rest of us.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Too true

          Exactly.. all in the name of 'we don't want to upset China...' - just look at what happened with the origin of Covid, all reports from the WHO were toned down to avoid blaming the Chinese institute of Virology in wuhan for the outbreak when the evidence keeps piling up that's exactly where it came from!

          1. EnviableOne

            Re: Too true

            the reports weren't scotched by china, but by the US-based EcoHealth Alliance and the US government that gave $600,000 to the Wuhan Institute of Virology to investigate Bat Coronavirus in 2014 and more when their funding was renewed in 2019 ...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Too true

              Hush, you! You're making sense!

              Shun the non-believer! Shuunnnn!! ShuuunnnnnnnnnN!

              Your kind of sensible thinking isn't allowed on the internet anymore. Go boost double-mask yourself like a good citizen! Don't forget to show your papers on demand when you go out! There you go.... gold star for you!

          2. veti Silver badge

            Re: Too true

            The "evidence" is ambiguous at best, and a lot of it is manipulated, spun, or outright fabricated by people with their own political agendas that I'm sure I don't have to spell out to you. I doubt we'll ever really know whether Covid spent part of its development cycle in a lab.

            The real major pointer that suggests this is the Chinese government's attitude, which oscillates between defensive, unhelpful, obstructive, and outright stonewalling. It's not what we would think of as the attitude of an innocent party. But there's a lot of political considerations bundled into that too - Xi can't afford to look weak, and anything that smacks of admitting that other countries might have some sort of legitimate interest or right to investigate anything inside China would be painted by his internal party opponents as opening the door to western neo-colonialism.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Too true

          Protests are only made in the streets by rent a mobs when the people involved are paid to attend and know full well that there will be zero consequences for doing so.

          Mild criticism of China's conduct isn't going to happen because the Chinese use any and every bit of power they can lay their hands on to ruin anybody opposing them.

          If Uni types tried to say anything about China then if their universities failed to kick them out then based on previous form they'd find themselves being denounced by the Chinese and all of their Chinese foreign students would promptly vanish with plentiful stories of how racist and terrible that university is appearing.

          End result; no comment on China's activities on subjugating a territory of their empire which was acquired at about the same time Britain was moving into India. Our evil empire of course maintained the local power structures and culture, and educated the locals to the point they took over from us. The Chinese meanwhile either executes or sends to re-education camps anybody in the conquered parts of their empire who are writing textbooks about their history or culture.

          1. Gordon 10

            Re: Too true


            Thats a rather rose tinted view of "our empire". Plenty of genocide in the British Empire to go around. "Leaving local structures in place" is just a way to pat ourselves on the back and ignore what absolute shits we were.

          2. martinusher Silver badge

            Re: Too true

            "Leaving social structures in place" is really about "understanding local politics in order to use its divisions to take control of a territory". Its a clever approach and the reason why the British Empire became so big and successful -- it was primarily a commercial operation that used political manoeuvring rather than military and religious domination as its tool for control.

            We're still doing this sort of thing. That's why there's such an emphasis on supporting separatism -- "self-determination" -- in target countries. Divided, they're weak and so easy to exploit.

            Incidentally, the Chinese, like other large countries, have numerous minority groups, many with their own languages and customs. (I think the official number is 55.) The only thing the Chinese are intolerant of is trying to bite off pieces of their country. This isn't unique to them -- look what happened in Spain when the Catalans even thought of leaving Spain.

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              Re: Too true

              "The only thing the Chinese are intolerant of is trying to bite off pieces of their country."

              Wrong. The crimes for which people are imprisoned are a lot more than advocating independence. And that's assuming we believe them every time they claim that a more serious crime is related to their imprisonment of another group. Advocating any level of democracy is heavily punished there, and there are restrictions on cultural activities as well. China has several minorities, and throughout their modern history, they have tried to wipe many of them away. From attempts to reduce the use of minority languages in schools to ethnicity-based concentration camps, this is not just for the integrity of their borders.

              As with the case of Spain, I also don't think countries should repress serious interest in regional independence. However, I will point out that nobody is being locked up in Spain for speaking Catalan or requesting independence. Only the government leaders who declared independence were charged, and I do not think that was justified. China's actions are in all respects more severe.

          3. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

            Re: Too true

            It's not precisely true. I'm credibly informed that there are ongoing protests in the streets, in Afghanistan, against Taliban mistreatment of women in Afghanistan. There are protests against tyrannical military government under tyrannical military governments in Africa, the Middle East, and Myanmar. And of course in the United States there are street protests against vaccination, hospitals, and the democratic election of government. And people somewhere are probably voluntarily protesting against mistreatment of Uighurs.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Too true

              "And people somewhere are probably voluntarily protesting against mistreatment of Uighurs."

              I've seen such protests mentioned on the local news several (many?) times over the last six months. You can probably guess where ... San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Sacramento, (and Palo Alto, of all places, once).

              Most of the protests involved two dozen or so people waving signs, and maybe two or three times that many people attracted by the commotion. The couple dozen always seem to be the same group of people, although I'll admit that's more a gut feeling than scientific analysis.

              A quick call around to a dozen or so friends shows these protests are lost in the sea of similar such protests ... they all blend into each other, diluting all of the individual messages.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Too true

          As am I mate, it's difficult to do much more than recirculate the odd petition.

          I can't do it through the Ballot box, I wish there was something concrete to help them and the other oppressed peoples of the world.

          I buy over priced oil on the basis that someone will plant a tree, in the back of my mind, the cynical voice suggests I'm a mug. It's good oil, tastes just like the one at a tenth of the price.

          I don't really know what else to do, I argue with people on the Internet, and that's a productive use of everyone's time if ever one existed.

          Maybe feeling guilty is a step up from not giving a shit at all, but unless you suddenly have gained great geopolitical influence, wtaf can we do?

        4. NoneSuch Silver badge

          Re: Too true

          "Players and executives often remain tight-lipped and refrain from speaking out against the Chinese government over fears that the NBA could lose out on fans and lucrative sponsorship deals by upsetting the Middle Kingdom."

          And then no one is surprised when nothing changes. Support dictatorships at your peril. If the CCP have not banned you or your company, then you are not doing a good enough job. They need us and our disposable income a lot more then we need them and their shoddy knockoffs made by political prisoners.

      2. LybsterRoy Silver badge

        Re: The land of the "free"

        Thank you for saying that. I was going to post something similar.

      3. Dave 15

        Re: The land of the "free"

        Made in China just means it will break tomorrow and your bargain becomes landfill.

        But you are right, no one cares and people keep doing it.

        Try finding a headset for your phone or computer thats not made in China... not a chance

        1. Kabukiwookie

          Re: The land of the "free"

          Dude. The 90s want their meme back.

          Did China produce shit products? Sure, so did Japan when Japan first entered the electronics market.

          There are now coming fairly good quality products out of Chinese factories (aside from the shiny fruit products from Foxconn that were designed in the US).

          At least I haven't heard of a chinese car manufacturerr that shipped a car without brake-pads.

    2. LybsterRoy Silver badge

      Re: The land of the "free"

      I would be inclined to upvote you IF you'd posted you support someone for telling the truth. You are much more likely to be sacked (or cancelled) for telling the truth as Chamath Palihapitiya has done.

      Saying "You can sack me if you like, but I'm not apologising for opposing human rights violations" is much more likely to get you a pat on the back or promoted.

      Cynical moi?

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: The land of the "free"

        I don't applaud people just for telling the truth. I applaud people for sticking up for ideals in the face of adversity, and more so if I share those ideals. Someone who denounces a human rights abuse even though their employer won't like it has taken a major risk. Someone who defends a political view I don't agree with may still face a risk. This guy's view, which he is defending as if someone is going to do something to him for it, is "I don't care". That's not an ideal, and he isn't going to face any consequences for it as he already has billions of dollars to insulate him from any negative response (which probably won't even exist).

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The land of the "free"

      People do put their principles before money every day - you just don't hear about it cause it's not a "story".

      I've quit a job paying me over 400K US total comp for one paying me 180K (yes I know that's still a LOT of money, but it's the nature of my industry, not my fault), over principles. Company? Facebook.

      I didn't like where they were headed so I quit.

      It's easy in tech though, you can find jobs in a heartbeat if you're good. Other fields, not so much. And people have families and kids and other responsibilities.

      There's still no excuse for the rich people though - in my case, yes I gave up a ton of money, but I'm still making a ton of money and my lifestyle didn't change. So it was easy to stick to my principles.

      If the alternative was a 50K/year job, I'm not that sure I would have quit!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The land of the "free"

        Similar story here: learned my employer was doing business with a country that's known for human rights abuses, so I pointed out the issues with this and left.

        I also recognise just how privileged I am to be in a position where that was an option - not everyone can afford to make a statement and say "fuck you, I'm off"

      2. jgard

        Re: The land of the "free"

        Well done sir! I applaud your actions. I never use the platform for the same reasons, but quitting for a much lower salary takes balls and personal moral standards.Well done again!

    4. Dave 15

      Re: The land of the "free"

      Too much greed.

  2. SuperGeek

    No shock!

    "'I recognize that I come across as lacking empathy,' billionaire VC admits"

    Like most fatcat narcissists then?

    1. unimaginative

      Re: No shock!

      My immediate response was that he is very narcissistic. Apparently narcissists tend to be quite successful: This video is part of an excellent series

      What narcissists are ------>

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: No shock!

        Narcissists are not, as a whole, any more successful than the rest of us. They still need talent and opportunity to make it big. Their advantage is that when they get those things, they're not held back by doubts or hesitancy. "Imposter syndrome", which strikes most normal people from time to time, is unknown to them.

        Prime example: the former POTUS.

  3. jake Silver badge

    "I recognize that I come across as lacking empathy"

    No, you come across as being a compete fucking clueless asshole, just like most of the rest of the tech billionaire club.

    1. Mark 85

      Re: "I recognize that I come across as lacking empathy"

      I'll add to that there's a lot of politicians in this country that also fit that group. Many aren't billionares... yet, Then again, lacking empathy has never stopped anyone from being elected.

    2. Evil Auditor Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: "I recognize that I come across as lacking empathy"

      No, you come across as being a compete fucking clueless asshole, just like most of the rest of the tech billionaire club.

      jake, I couldn't have put that better.

    3. Michael Strorm Silver badge

      Re: "I recognize that I come across as lacking empathy"

      My guess is that the reason he comes across as lacking empathy is that he lacks empathy.

    4. EnviableOne

      Re: "I recognize that I come across as lacking empathy"

      Like it or not, he's telling the truth, the cost-benefit of speaking up has been weighed and come down on the side of Xi and the regime over the suppression of the Uighurs.

      It comes across as heartless, and lacking in empathy, especially due to his "lived Experience" but however it appears, it is anything but clueless, it in effect states the obvious truth.

      However, we may rage against the injustice and think of ourselves better than we are, there may be some bluster and words, or "Thoughts and Prayers" but nothing active will be done unless something drastically changes the cost-benefit.

      The only thing I can think that might motivate the Western powers to Act is if MBS says Saudi will cut Oil production if they don't.

  4. Anonymous Coward


    He's a US Billionaire, of course he cares most about the US Economy. He's a tech investor so he cares about Taiwan or, at least, TSMC. His climate priority is no doubt helped by his Truckee home views being obscured by smoke from the California fires.

    In other words "I've got mine and I'm not giving it up". Just like almost all of the 1%.

    1. LybsterRoy Silver badge

      Re: Doh!

      I upvoted you, but I do think your final sentence is wrong - it should be "Just like 99% of the human race". I'm not to sure about other animals but have you every tried taking a bone from a dog who's happily chewing on it?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Doh!

      <em?"I've got mine and I'm not giving it up". Just like almost all of the 1%.</em>

      And all the rest of us too.

      Don't see anyone I know sending their car off to the crusher to avert climate disaster.

      1. Dave 15

        Re: Doh!

        Not when bone headed employers still insist you attend their climate wrecking office... how else do you feed yourself?

        Of course the simple replacing of fossil fuels with artificial fuels generated using the CO2 in the environment would mean we can become carbon neutral without the costs and problems of replacing everything But hey ho, doesnt seem that the environmental lobby are blessed with any brains either

      2. Aitor 1

        Re: Doh!

        I did.

        And I got a LPG car as it pollutes next to nothing.

        Was awarded administrative hurdles and mockery.

        So after that one I got a diesel.

  5. jake Silver badge

    As for the Warriors ...

    ... I'm not a basketball fan, not by a long shot, but all you have to do to see how the players and coaches feel on this subject (and others) is to look at their faces when asked about it. Clearly, the Rank & File are not pro-Chinese "leadership" values, regardless of what their lords & masters, holders of the moneybags, have to say on the subject.

    "We can't control their faces??? Oh, bother!", said Pooh. "Clearly, the beatings must continue until morale improves."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh, bother!", said Pooh

      I though using "Pooh" was deprecated. So I prefer "Friend of Piglet". :-)

  6. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    If we wait

    until our own country is truly perfect, we will never support human rights anywhere else.

    1. Graham Cobb Silver badge

      Re: If we wait

      Yes - and most of us are in a country that has declared it wants to repeal the Human Rights Act (as well as attempting to pass the anti-rights Elections and Policing bills).

      1. Graham Cobb Silver badge

        Re: If we wait

        A downvote? I never knew Priti Patel read The Register.

  7. Peter D

    "My lived experience"

    My annoying bullshit prattle detector kicked in when it hit that part of his statement and I was unable to read further. Did he say anything of note?

    1. jgard

      Re: "My lived experience"

      Nothing of note, but his wince inducing use of that appalling term only serves to recapitulate on the initial impression that he’s a self-absorbed prick. Or should that be: a morally-vacant, self-serving hypocrite.

      It’s a dire attempt to emphasise his history as a refugee, while using woke-speak to curry favour with the millennial demographic prevalent in Silicon Valley . But it’s so thoroughly transparent and insincere, that it only reiterates his lack of self-awareness and the fact he’s an uncaring, unpleasant hypocrite.

      Chamath Palihapitiya: a person of such low like-ability, you’d rather walk 50 miles in 100 degree heat with an overflowing, self-refilling spittoon your head, than say hello to him.

  8. Dave 15

    why was he blasted, no one does care

    Or at least an insignificant number of people profess to care.

    Ask how many companies are still moving their production and even R&D to China regardless of these stories, despite the production being shite and just for profits

    Ask how many people are still buying products from companies that are making second rate crap in China instead of products made by people who give a fig in countries where they dont bollox the environment and use slaves

    The fact is sadly people dont care, we have been conditioned to not care, too many people buying crap products from crap companies again and again and again, often because there is no longer an alternative because every company has moved their stuff to China regardless of what they do,

  9. quadibloc2

    Maybe Not Mistaken

    What can we actually do to rescue the Uyghurs that won't start a global thermonuclear war? So while it may not be accurate to say that nobody cares, if nobody can actually do anything, how can you tell?

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Maybe Not Mistaken

      It might not be much, but caring is still important. If I found a way to benefit them, I would do it, making some sacrifices to do so. At the moment, there is some action sanctioning individual companies who use forced labor in the camps. This may be cold comfort to someone suffering now, but at least I, and likely you, would do something. The person covered here could do various things, and certainly has more power than I do because he has billions of dollars to spend on problems, but wouldn't choose to do anything because he doesn't care.

  10. Not Irrelevant

    Is it weird that I knew exactly who this article was about just by reading that title?

  11. tel2016

    I think people DO care

    But they feel that demonstrations/petitions do little to change anything, so why bother?

    One thing everyone can easily do if they buy things on Amazon, is to install either 'Cultivate' or 'Cellar'. These add-ons show which country the vendor is from.

    Aiming to avoid buying products from Chinese vendors could make a difference. Buying something from your own country is even better, although even then, there's no guarantee it won't have 'Made in China' printed on it.

  12. tiggity Silver badge

    "I'm all right Jack"

    .. and "pulling up the ladder behind them" mindsets are common

    Someone earlier mentioned Priti Patel (UK high ranking politician, who's main shtick is anti immigrant / anti asylum seeker rhetoric and creating laws to make life harder for them).

    Interesting article here

    on politicians supporting these "tough on migrants" bills, even though, if in place at the time, their own parents would have been banned from the UK (their parents were migrants to the UK).

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