The US State Department estimates that up to 2 million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities have been held in internment camps in Xinjiang province since 2017, although China has repeatedly denied accusations of human rights abuses.
“I want to say thank you to Mr. Yao Ming…I actually want to go to China and see it all with my own eyes,” Freedom told CNN reporter John Berman on New Day. “But on this trip, I would like to ask Mister Yao Ming, will I be able to visit the labor camps?”
He added, “I don’t need to lecture through China, I don’t want propaganda. I want to see the real China and show the whole world what’s going on. So, yeah, I’m actually accepting his offer.”
The 29-year-old’s comments sparked a backlash in the Asian country, where Celtics Games have been pulled through Chinese video streaming site Tencent and the government criticized Freedom’s comments.
“I want everyone to know that the CPC is not the core of Olympic excellence, friendship and respect,” he added. “They are a brutal dictatorship. They threaten liberties and do not respect human rights.”
The Warriors’ family said in a statement that Palihapitiya “has no day operating jobs” with the team and that “his views certainly do not reflect those of our organization.”
For his part, Freedom called Balhabitia’s comments “incredible,” adding, “It was pathetic, it was disgusting, and I was definitely very ashamed of it.”