In a Thursday article, ESPN detailed the deep ties that billionaire Brooklyn Nets Owner Joe Tsai has to the authoritarian Chinese government and how those relationships “personify” the “compromise” of the NBA’s hypocritical relationship with China.
Tsai made his billions with the Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba. Since joining the NBA as an owner, he has been called “invaluable” to the NBA’s expansion in the communist nation.
But Tsai is also the poster boy for the NBA’s hypocrisy.
In an unusual random act of journalism, in its Thursday article, ESPN notes, “Tsai personifies the compromises embedded in the NBA-China relationship, which brings in billions of dollars but requires the league to do business with an authoritarian government and look past the kind of social justice issues it is fighting at home.”
Tsai has gone to lengths to serve two masters, both working at opposite ends. Tsai has pushed millions of dollars in the U.S. to fund dozens of woke campaigns against “racism.” Still, in China, his company works to support entities and agencies that the U.S. government blacklists for supporting a “campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention and high-tech surveillance” by using racial profiling.
The NBA owner has also specifically defended China’s brutal crackdowns on political dissent, including the country’s destruction of free speech in Hong Kong, ESPN says in its long, in-depth piece.
Protests against China hosting the Olympics (JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)
According to ESPN, Tsai even thinks China’s brutal crackdowns have been a good thing because “He believes China’s restrictions on personal freedoms have paved the way for economic development that has improved the lives of millions of its citizens.”
Tsai’s double-dealing, though, has not gone unnoticed. ESPN noted that the NBA owner had taken some criticism in the U.S.A.
“Joe Tsai is emblematic of U.S. sports and business figures who are critical of American imperfections, as we all should be, but who make excuses for human rights atrocities committed in China, where he makes money,” Matt Pottinger, a former deputy national security adviser and China specialist in the Trump administration, told ESPN. “We’re going to self-censor or even compliment the policies of a totalitarian dictatorship that’s committing crimes against humanity?”
Insiders even insisted that Tsai stretched his influence inside the NBA to get now-former Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey fired for his 2019 tweet supporting the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. Tsai and the NBA have denied those charges.
Since then, under Tsai’s leadership, Alibaba has helped the Chinese government build “an intrusive, omnipresent surveillance state that uses emerging technologies to track individuals with greater efficiency,” ESPN noted.
That surveillance state — the largest and most intrusive ever created — has been used to imprison and enslave ethnic Chinese people, especially the country’s Uyghur minority group.
(VALENTIN FLAURAUD/AFP via Getty Images)
“Last I checked, that’s a pretty abysmal thing to be associated with,” said Matt Turpin, the former China director for the National Security Council. “In today’s NBA, I guess it’s not a problem.”
Tsai is prominently listed among the many American elites helping China to become a world leader in Peter Schweizer’s book Red-Handed, How American Elites Get Rich Helping China Win.
In fact, some of the technologies that Tsai has helped bankroll and invent have been used to detain and interrogate the NBA’s own personnel in China.
Meanwhile, Tsai and his wife, Clara Wu Tsai, have donated millions to various “social justice” organizations in the U.S., including a $50 million donation to create the Social Justice Fund, a racial justice and economic recovery initiative in Brooklyn.
So, while Tsai donates to organizations in the U.S. that maintain that America is an irredeemably racist country, those he is financially connected to have helped China crackdown, imprison, torture, enslave, and murder millions of Uyghurs, Christians, Falun Gong members, freedom fighters, and others in China.
In the end, Joe Tsai seems emblematic of the NBA as his actions perfectly match the league’s support for calling America an evil, racist place while turning a blind eye to their Chinese partners’ overt racism and oppressive authoritarianism.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Facebook at: facebook.com/Warner.Todd.Huston