Virgin Galactic has distanced itself from comments made by its chairman yesterday, urging that his views do not reflect that of the company’s.
Chairman Chamath Palihapitiya told the All-In Podcast audience that “nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghur Muslims.”
Venture capitalist Palihapitiya, amidst a discussion of human rights, said “of all the things that I care about, (it) is below my line.”
The Uyghur Muslims are an ethnic group in the Xinjiang region of China who most international observers agree are the subject of forced labour and serious repression, with both the US government and a host of British MPs labelling Beijing’s actions “genocide.”
Palihapitiya went on to describe basic human rights as “a luxury belief” and says he won’t be concerned until America has “taken care” of domestic issues.
The chairman added that “I’m not even sure that China is a dictatorship the way you want to call it that” in a discussion with his podcast co-host Jason Calacanis.
A Virgin Galactic spokesperson said: “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.”
Chamath later Tweeted: “In re-listening to this week’s podcast, I recognise that I come across as lacking empathy.
“As a refugee, my family fled a country with its own set of 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.”
Palihapitiya’s comments will also raise eyebrows due to his part-ownership of American professional basketball team the Golden State Warriors.
The National Basketball Association, the professional basketball league, has been under scrutiny in recent years for its attitude to China, including reports that league leadership applied pressure on the Houston Rockets general manager to delete a tweet about the treatment of protestors in Hong Kong.
NBA player Enes Kanter said “when genocides happen, it is people like this that let it happen.”