By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Alex Lasry’s got a China problem.
At a Ripon College event in October, the Milwaukee Bucks exec and multi-multi-millionaire Democrat candidate for U.S. Senate criticized Republican lawmakers for not doing enough on China.
The liberal 1-percenter was asked about China’s economic coercion of American businesses, particularly Lasry’s beloved NBA. What would he do, if elected to serve as a Wisconsin U.S. senator, to protect American industries from the heavy hand of Communist China, asked an audience member at the candidate meet-and-greet hosted by the college’s Center for Politics and the People.
Lasry, one of several candidates in a crowded field of liberals looking to take the seat held by U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Oshkosh) next year, said the United States’. relationship with any country, including China, can be “really delicate.” But “we” need to make sure “the government isn’t the one that’s kowtowing.” What’s remarkable is he said as much with a straight face, considering the kowtowing President Joe Biden has done for the totalitarian regime that runs China — and his deadbeat son Hunter’s Chinese investments. Lasry’s wealthy family knows a lot about supplication at the feet of China, too. The NBA and their teams, including the Milwaukee Bucks, have been kissing communist China’s ass for years to keep the money spigot turned on — human rights be damned.
“You have these Republican senators complaining about someone’s statement on China, and I’m, like, you’re in government, you’re in the U.S. Senate. Where’s your bill to protect the people of Hong Kong? Where’s your bill or your ability to move and push at the time of the Trump administration to play a heavier hand?” the candidate said.
Beyond Lasry’s muddled critique is Lasry’s hypocrisy.
For those scoring along at home, Alibaba Group developed the Chinese propaganda app and has a “deep record” of collaborating with the State Security Bureaucracy. Alibaba is the biggest e-commerce company in the world, while Tencent operates the popular WeChat messaging service. They’re also accused of being tools for China’s central state.
“’Xuexi Qiangguo,’ which literally translates as ‘Study to make China strong’ and is a play on the government propaganda theme of applying President Xi Jinping’s thoughts, overtook Tik Tok’s Chinese version Douyin and WeChat to become the county’s most popular app on Apple’s China app store…,” Reuters reported in 2019.
“It was developed by a largely unknown special projects team at Alibaba known as the ‘Y Projects Business Unit,’ which takes on development projects outside the company,” sources told Reuters.
Lasry’s billionaire daddy, Marc Lasry, has been a giddy cheerleader for investing in China.
“Economically, for us, that’s actually great,” the hedge fund manager and co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks told Forbes in May. The elder Lasry’s Avenue Capital Group boasted $11.8 billion in assets under management as of August, about $1.8 billion of that in China.
“Their GDP growth was through the roof. Everything is growing out there,” he added. “Because of the growth, I think we’ll end up doing very well. So for what we’re looking at, I think now is a great time to be investing in China.”
In other words, get rich in China even as the Chinese Communist Party pushes its brand of authoritarianism beyond its borders.
A bipartisan House bill introduced in October seeks to hold China accountable for its power trips.
“The People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) increasing use of economic coercion against foreign governments, companies, organizations, other entities, and individuals requires that the United States better understand these measures in order to devise a comprehensive, effective, and multilateral response,” the legislation states.
Last week, U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Allouez) applauded the Women’s Tennis Association for suspending all WTA tournaments in China out of concern over the safety of Peng Shaui, a Grand Slam doubles champion who made sexual assault allegations against a former government official. Gallagher said the courage on display from the tennis association stands in stark contrast to the cowardice of the NBA.
“Shame on all these cowards,” Gallagher said Friday on Fox and Friends “It’s time for corporate America to choose: What side are you on? Do you really want to abet a genocidal communist regime, which is the worst human rights offender in the world?”
For the Lasrys and the NBA money talks louder than courage.