The NBA Bows to China

Standing with Hong Kong

With the protests in Hong Kong waning on, the conflict has gained international recognition with people around the world giving their two cents. Among these people is Houston Rockets general manager for the NBA, Daryl Morey, who voiced his support for the protesters urging Americans to, “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong”.

NBA Response

The tweet was quickly taken down as Chinese broadcasters and streaming platforms began to announce the removal of Rockets games from their listings. NBA executives then made Morey delete the tweet and backpedal with an apology. The NBA has issued many statements as to not offend their Chinese sponsors even going as far as players on the Rockets saying “We love China!”. The NBA amasses an estimated $4 billion from the Chinese market, and their corporate interests are a top priority for them.

Morey tweets on China
Morey tweets on China

 

Backlash

The backlash came from every direction with NBA representatives quickly attempting to mend relations with Chinese viewers and angry Chinese citizens. A large majority of anger came from the American public who saw this as the NBA submitting to the will of the Chinese Communist Party, as the vast majority of Chinese corporations act on the will of the ruling government. American politicians have condemned the NBA with Republican senator, Ted Cruz, claiming that “Human rights should not be for sale” and for an end to cooperating with communist censorship. Democratic presidential contender, Julian Castro, condemned the NBA over letting a foreign authoritarian government dictate the acts of those abroad. 

Corporations and China

China boasts the fastest-growing economy since the 1970s when it began to globalize, opening itself to outside corporations. China has been a popular place for corporations to operate as the government does little for workers, with most paid about 2 cents an hour, suffering workplace abuses, and seeing most of the profits go back into the state or the corporation itself. These practices allow for China to make profits easily and efficiently for itself and corporations, making it a very popular place to base operations. Of course, with all the new-found labor and wealth, the corporations must follow the will of the communist party in order to continue operations in the nation and get their part of the riches. These practices garner criticism from much of the West, including Americans, as critics claim the practices only fuel the companies and the authoritarian state at the expense of the Chinese and American public.

Public and Corporate Outcry

As the NBA licked their wounds to secure their Chinese profits, other corporations began to feel the sting of public opinion for their practices with the communist country, as well. Apple received backlash for removing the Taiwan emoji from Hong Kong Iphones and Blizzard Entertainment for silencing one of their commercial partners, Ng Wai Chung after he made some comments in favor of Hong Kong protesters.

Matt Stone and Trey Parker in China 1990s

On the other side of the spectrum, Red Bull released an ad giving favor to protesters, and South Park creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, released an episode of South Park criticizing the Chinese Communist Party and the corporations they work with, resulting in China’s ban of the show. Ironically the duo expected this to happen as the episode was named “Band in China” an episode about a musical band in China. The creators then went on to mock the NBA with a tweet sarcastically apologizing and praising the communist party of China saying, “We too also care about money more than human rights! Glory to the Communist Party of China!”.

As it currently sits, the NBA, Apple, and Blizzard Entertainment are keeping quiet about the events, as the public lashes out.

Sources

(n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.msn.com/en-gb/entertainment/tv/south-park-creators-trey-parker-and-matt-stone-post-mock-apology-after-china-bans-show/ar-AAIsdB0

Conditt, J. (2019, October 9). Blizzard is ‘assessing the situation’ after Hong Kong protest ban. Retrieved from https://www.engadget.com/2019/10/09/blizzard-hong-kong-ban-blitzchung-china-mei-protest-2019/.

Daryl Morey backtracks after Hong Kong tweet causes Chinese backlash. (2019, October 7). Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/business-49956385.

Silva, M. D. (2019, October 7). Apple bows to China by censoring Taiwan flag emoji. Retrieved from https://qz.com/1723334/apple-removes-taiwan-flag-emoji-in-hong-kong-macau-in-ios-13-1-1/.

The NBA’s crisis in China threatens multibillion-dollar ties. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/nba-china-crisis-nba-ties-with-china-worth-billions-now-under-strain/.

Zillgitt, J., & Medina, M. (2019, October 9). As impasse over pro-Hong Kong tweet simmers, what’s at stake for the NBA in China? Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/2019/10/09/nba-china-hong-kong-whats-at-stake/3912447002/.