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Tool of the Week: Tough-talking Alex Lasry

Alex Lasry likes to talk tough when it comes to China. But the multi-millionaire’s portfolio tells a different story.

In October, the Milwaukee Bucks executive and Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate criticized congressional Republicans for not taking a tougher stand on communist China’s coercion of American businesses.

“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 at a candidate forum hosted by Ripon college’s Center for Politics and the People.

It’s an interesting take from a guy whose billionaire, hedge fund daddy owns a big share of the NBA’s Milwaukee franchise. The Association and their teams, including the Milwaukee Bucks, have been kowtowing to China for years.

There’s a lot of money in China for the NBA — and for Alex Lasry.

Lasry holds $50,001 to $100,000 in Alibaba stock  and as much as $100,000 in Tencent stock, according to U.S. Senate financial disclosures.

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.

Talk is cheap. Investments in companies propped up by repressive regimes are quite lucrative.

Alex Lasry talks out of both sides of his mouth on China. He does so because he’s a tool.

Empower Wisconsin’s Tool of the Week.

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