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NBA Controversy Highlights China’s Bullying Tactics

October 28, 2019 in Economics

By Tanja Porčnik, Visio Institut

Tanja Porčnik and Visio Institut

Even though Hong Kong operates under separate laws within the ‘one country, two systems’ model, the invisible hand of mainland China is becoming increasingly visible in the territory. In response, mass protests have been ongoing for four months in Hong Kong.

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This political crisis in Hong Kong represents one of the major challenges to Communist Party authority since the Tiananmen Square protest three decades ago.

People around the world have been expressing support of Hongkongers in their fight for human rights and democratic political institutions. One of them, Daryl Morey, the Houston Rockets general manager, tweeted an image that stated: “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”

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His tweet drew immediate and fierce condemnation in China (ironically, Twitter is banned in China) followed by substantial retaliation from several key partners, such as the Chinese Basketball Association, China’s state-run television network CCTV, Chinese Internet giant Tencent Sports, and Alibaba, biggest online retailer in China.

In response to their wrath, Morey deleted the tweet and the league’s commissioner, Adam Silver, defended freedom of expression of players, coaches, and team owners. LeBron James said Morey was “misinformed.”

After the NBA’s decades-long push to develop China into its largest overseas market, the financial consequences of a conflict with China will amount to billions of dollars. While some may not like it, the NBA has a prerogative to act in its own interest, whatever that might be, even if that interest is based solely on making money. After all, the United States upholds the economic freedom.

The same applies to the coaches and players in the NBA. Not just their pecuniary interest, they might not be prepared to put their careers on the line to speak out against human rights violations. They might also be selective about which causes they support publicly.

After all, it is their freedom to lead their lives as they wish, just like it is their right to publicly express their opinion, or not, if they wish.

International companies doing business in the Chinese 1.4 …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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