Billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban refused to condemn China for its human rights abuses, saying it was a customer of the NBA and he was “OK” conducting business with the communist nation.
Cuban, 62, who gained the largest share of his wealth from the sale of the livestream company broadcast.com to Yahoo and is one of the NBA’s most outspoken voices, sparred with host Megyn Kelly on her podcast Monday after she repeatedly questioned why he and the league would not “explicitly condemn” China.
“Because they are a customer,” he said. “They are a customer of ours, and guess what, Megyn? I’m OK with doing business with China. And so we have to pick our battles. I wish we could solve all the world’s problems. But we can’t.”
The comments came after Kelly pressed Cuban on the NBA’s relationship with China, which besides its military response to Hong Kong protesters has been accused of torture, forced labor, and coercive population controls – including abortions and sterilizations – of the minority Muslim Uighurs in the northwest of the country.
“I personally put a priority on domestic issues,” Cuban said. “I’m against human rights violations around the world.”
Kelly asked if that included China.
“China is not the only country with human rights violations,” Cuban responded.
After an exchange in which they spoke over one another, Kelly again asked, “Including China, Mark?”
“Yes, including China – any human rights violations anywhere are wrong,” he said while referencing Turkey and a few African countries.
“Why would the NBA take $500 million-plus from a country that is engaging in ethnic cleansing?” Kelly asked.
“So basically, you’re saying nobody should do business with China ever,” Cuban said before defending the NBA’s economic ties with the country.
The NBA’s relationship with China has drawn increased attention since last fall when the country removed the NBA broadcasts from state-TV after Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey went to Twitter to offer for support anti-government protesters in Hong Kong. The broadcasts returned to state TV this past weekend.
The NBA called Morey’s comments “regrettable.”
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