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Georgia gubernatorial Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams co-chaired a racial justice organization that’s financed by an executive of Alibaba, a Chinese firm that reportedly helped create surveillance technology used against Uyghur Muslims.
Abrams was first announced co-chair of the Black Voices for Black Justice Fund (BVBJ) in April 2021. She said in a press release at the time that she was “excited” and “honored” to join the organization because it “puts Black leaders in the driver’s seat – with Black activists on the ground who understand how racism plays out in their community defining both the problem and the solutions.”
BVBJ describes itself as a “pooled philanthropic fund” with 18 partners, including the Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation, a private grant-making foundation based in La Jolla, California.
Joe Tsai of that foundation is a billionaire Canadian citizen who co-founded and currently serves as executive vice chairman of Alibaba Group, one of China’s largest technology firms that actively works to advance the interests of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
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ESPN released an extensive report on Tsai in April, citing a study that found Alibaba is “effectively state-controlled” by the Chinese government. That notion is underscored by co-founder Jack Ma’s disappearance from public view after he criticized China’s financial regulators in October 2020. It was only in October 2021 that Ma, a longtime CCP member, reappeared in Hong Kong, Reuters reported.
A 2019 article in Education About Asia described Alibaba as a “national champion” of the Chinese government, because it advances state interests while benefiting from state policies.
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“While not state-owned, Alibaba still finds itself like other private Chinese tech companies deeply involved with the government as one of its national champions,” the article said.
While Tsai has donated millions to social justice movements in the U.S., Alibaba funds several Chinese artificial intelligence companies blacklisted by the U.S. for human rights abuses, ESPN reported.
The technologies that Alibaba helped produce have also been used for government surveillance and to “re-educate” Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, according to a congressional report in June 2020. According to a report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Alibaba in 2014 entered a strategic partnership with the Xinjiang government to provide cloud computing technologies to apply in areas of policing and counterterrorism.
Tsai has not spoken publicly about China’s treatment of Uyghurs. In 2018, he told the Milken Institute that it was “important” for China to limit freedoms of its people in order to achieve and retain “absolute stability in the country.”
In 2019, Tsai said, “It is what it is,” when asked during a discussion at the University of California San Diego to weigh in on the crackdowns on academic freedoms in China.
The New York Times reported in December 2020 that Alibaba’s website for its cloud computing business previously showed how clients could use its software to detect the faces of Uyghurs and other minorities in images and videos. The company later removed references to Uyghurs and minorities from the website and told The Times, “The ethnicity mention refers to a feature/function that was used within a testing environment during an exploration of our technical capability. It was never used outside the testing environment.”
Along with the Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation, BVBJ partners with 17 other organizations, including the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Delaware Community Foundation & Rodel Foundation, Kenan Charitable Trust, Red Crane Foundation and The Moriah Fund.
According to internet archives on Wayback, Abrams was listed on BVBJ’s website as co-chair as recently as November 2021. Abrams is currently listed on the fund’s website with her picture as “co-chair emeriti,” a honorary title, which she assumed sometime between November 2021 and late March 2022, according to Wayback.
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Abrams’ campaign did not respond to Fox News Digital’s inquiry about whether Abrams was aware of Tsai’s connection to human rights abuses in China or if she will disavow BVBJ’s partnership with his foundation.
Fox News Digital reported Tuesday that the BVBJ awards tens of thousands of dollars to activists who want to defund and abolish the police and U.S. prison system. Fox News Digital asked the Abrams campaign whether Abrams has had any communication with the current co-chairs or played a role in the selection process of organization’s awardees, but the campaign did not respond. The campaign also did not say whether Abrams disavowed the group for giving thousands to defund the police activists.
Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report.