Brooklyn Nets star Ben Simmons donated a basketball court to a city in China’s Guizhou province last week and praised a prominent Chinese official who dismissed reports of persecution against Uyghur Muslims.

Simmons donated the court to Machang Town in the province, where the sport of basketball has taken off. According to Basket News, a basketball tournament in the province had 30,000 attendees and more online scores.

In a press conference held at the opening of the court, Simmons thanked Huang Ping, who has been the consul general of the Chinese Consulate in New York since 2018.

«I am very excited and happy to announce the court’s gift,» Simmons said. «Many thanks to Ambassador Huang Ping and the Guizhou government. I first visited China to play basketball when I was 16 years old, and later as an NBA player. I always enjoy visiting people, and the fans are always very welcoming, and the the love for basketball there is incredible.

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Nets guard Ben Simmons during a timeout at an Atlanta Hawks game at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on March 31, 2023. (Brad Penner-USA Today Sports)

«My wish is to bring the joy of basketball to more people, so I wanted to donate a court to help places where people love the game and can benefit from new facilities. I heard that people in Guizhou have amazing local basketball tournaments and just had the final this year. I wish the people of Guizhou all the best, and hope to see them soon in the future.»

Huang was in the spotlight earlier this year when he made appearances at the Barclays Center, the Nasdaq MarketSite and the Empire State Building, rubbing shoulders with prominent American business leaders at each stop. The Nets celebrated the Chinese New Year of the Rabbit in January, and Huang went to the basketball court, where he spoke briefly and received a sweater and a toy rabbit as gifts from Sam Zussman, CEO of the Nets’ parent company, BSE. Global.

Huang has a history of making controversial comments that did not come up in any of their recent meetings in New York. In particular, he has frequently praised the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and strongly defended China’s treatment of the Uyghurs, a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority, in the Xinjiang region.

Huang Ping, the consul general of the New York Consulate of China.

Huang Ping, the consul general of the New York Consulate of China. (YouTube Screenshot/Consulate General of China in New York)

«There are a lot of lies here, made up by some people with their own political agenda,» Huang said. said in an interview in August 2021, denying the existence of genocide and internment camps against the Uyghurs. “As I said, there is no genocide, not a single piece of evidence to prove that there is a genocide or anything like that. It’s just a slander.»

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He US Holocaust Memorial Museum and the State Department under the Trump and Biden administrations have assessed that China is committing genocide against the Uyghurs. Since 2017, the Chinese government has reportedly incarcerated more than a million Uyghurs in concentration camps where, according to documents leaked from inside China, detainees are subjected to rape, torture, forced labor, brainwashing, and sterilization. forced.

Huang also called the CCP a «big party» and described the camps in which the Uyghurs are detained as educational.

«I see these centers as a campus, rather than camp,» he said. «We take these people there to educate them. And this has been quite effective in terms of counter-terrorism and de-radicalisation. So far, there hasn’t been a single terrorist attack in exactly four years.»

Nets guard Ben Simmons controls the ball against Philadelphia 76ers forward Paul Reed at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on February 11, 2023.

Nets guard Ben Simmons controls the ball against Philadelphia 76ers forward Paul Reed at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on February 11, 2023. (Brad Penner-USA Today Sports)

When previously contacted for comment, the Chinese consulate in New York echoed Huang’s comments, telling Fox News Digital that «the Xinjiang-related issue is not about human rights» and that a «thousand-told lie.» Sometimes it’s just a lie.»

The Nets are owned by Joe Tsai, a Taiwanese-Canadian businessman who is a co-founder of Alibaba. Tsai’s ties to the Chinese regime have also been documented.

Tsai defended a national security law in Hong Kong in an interview on CNBC and defended China for cracking down on suspected «separatists.»

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«What is this for? It’s against sedition. It’s against people who advocate dividing Hong Kong as a separate country. I want to make sure that we prevent foreign powers from dividing up our territories. I think Hong Kong should be seen in that context,» he said.

Furthermore, when Tsai was asked about the crackdown on human rights in China, he asked the host to clarify what he was talking about. The way Tsai saw it, «the vast majority of the population, I’m talking about 80-90% of the population, are very, very happy that their lives are getting better every year.»

Injured Brooklyn Nets guard Ben Simmons watches from the sidelines during a New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden on March 1, 2023.

Injured Brooklyn Nets guard Ben Simmons watches from the sidelines during a New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden on March 1, 2023. (Brad Penner-USA Today Sports)

A study previously claimed that Alibaba is «effectively controlled by the state.» 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 he reappeared in Hong Kong, Reuters reported.

The technologies Alibaba helped produce were used for government surveillance, according to a 2020 congressional report. The technologies have been used to «re-educate» Uyghur Muslims and force millions to live in camps in western China. , something that the Chinese government has denied. .

Tsai has fully supported the NBA’s social justice movement. He and his wife Clara’s Social Justice Fund help fight racial injustice and plan for economic recovery in Brooklyn following the coronavirus pandemic. The two aim to end racism of all kinds against people of color.

However, that work is in stark contrast to Tsai’s views on China’s heavily policed ​​citizens.

He was asked in 2019 in a discussion at the University of California, San Diego about the crackdown on academic freedoms in China.

«It is what it is. The fact is that China today is a one-party system, so there will be restrictions on academic freedoms and freedom of expression. I mean, do people like that? I think most people don’t like it but I think that’s how the Communist Party needs to control that to feel confident in pushing its policies in other areas,» he said.

Joe Tsai speaks during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California on April 29, 2019.

Joe Tsai speaks during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California on April 29, 2019. (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

«The one-party system exists because the elite in China feel that China is still a developing country, and I talked about two broader goals: ensuring that the population is richer and better off and also restoring this sense of rebirth and the pride in Chinese culture. They feel that dissent should take a backseat and that whatever they are doing is right.»

told the Milken Institute in 2018 was important for China to limit the freedoms of its people.

«You must understand that for the communist government it is important that there be absolute stability in the country. In the American context, we talk about freedom of expression, freedom of the press, but in the context of China, being able to restrict some of those freedoms is an element important to maintain stability.

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The NBA has a large presence in China, but it came under the spotlight after the former Houston Rockets tweeted a pro-Hong Kong statement in 2019.

Fox News’ Aaron Kliegman contributed to this report.