Joseph Tsai
Source: Getty Images

Who Is Joseph Tsai, and What Are His Political Views?

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Oct. 25 2021, Published 11:55 a.m. ET

Joseph Tsai was a well-off private equity investor working for Investor AB when he discovered Jack Ma and his company Alibaba. In 1999, he stepped into a role working for the fledgling Alibaba at much lower pay. That gamble has paid off handsomely for Tsai, who has become essential to Jack Ma and has served in executive roles at Alibaba, such as CFO and executive vice chair.

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Tsai, whose net worth is currently around $10.1 billion even after Alibaba’s stock price dropped in summer 2021, has been a spokesman for Ma during his disappearance from the public eye. Politically, Tsai has maintained loyalty to the Communist Party, which holds power in China.

Joseph Tsai

Alibaba Co-Founder and Executive Vice Chair, Brooklyn Nets Owner

Net worth: $10.1 Billion

Forbes estimated Tsai’s net worth to be $11.6 billion as of April 2021. That figure as of Oct. 25, 2021 is listed at $10.1 billion, putting him at #189 on the Forbes Billionaires List. Tsai is the second-largest individual Alibaba shareholder after Jack Ma.

Education: Yale University (Undergraduate and Law Degree)

Wife: Clara Wu Tsai

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Joseph Tsai’s politics

Born in Taiwan, the investor and businessman spent a large portion of childhood and college in the U.S. and now lives in China. In regards to the tension between Taiwan and China, Tsai seems to support Beijing, its control of China, and the eventual goal to reunite Taiwan with China.

And when speaking to CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin in June 2021, Tsai deflected questions about human rights abuses in China. Tsai stated that “80%, 90% of the population are very, very happy with the fact that their lives are improving every year.” He referred to the increased GDP since 1999 and said that the average citizen was "very hopeful about the future" and "happy about where they are."

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As Jack Ma was preparing to take Ant Group public in Nov. 2020, his public criticism of Chinese financial regulators led to the suspension of the Ant Group IPO. Tsai claimed that Jack Ma's retreat from public view was not because of a governmental directive, but by choice, and he was focusing on hobbies and philanthropy.

Jack Ma
Source: Getty Images

Joseph Tsai said that Jack Ma hasn't been forced from the public view by the Chinese government, despite Ma's criticism of Chinese financial regulators.

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In Oct. 2019, when anti-government protesters were in Hong Kong, an NBA (National Basketball Association) executive tweeted support for protestors, but Tsai responded by calling the pro-democracy protesters a “separatist movement,” as the Financial Post reports. His language indicated an allegiance to Chinese Communist policies.

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Joseph Tsai and the Brooklyn Nets

Tsai has been the full owner of the NBA's Brooklyn Nets since 2019. He began the purchase process with a 49.9 percent stake in 2017, and took full ownership of the $2.3 billion franchise in 2019, along with buying the team arena for another $1 billion.

The Nets are embroiled in a COVID-19 vaccine controversy due to player Kyrie Irving’s decision to remain unvaccinated. Although the NBA doesn’t have a vaccine mandate, Irving isn’t permitted to play in New York. The team also won’t allow him to play in away games, as that would require him to be only a part-time team member.

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