As Congress demands NBA exit China, Australia shudders

The NBA is suddenly becoming collateral damage in the US/China economic war as the Congress demands it exits:

1. Build upon your statement of October 8 in which you said “the NBA will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees, and team owners say or will not say on these issues” by clarifying that (a) NBA players, staff, partners, and fans in the United States are American persons—as such, you support their right to express their opinions no matter the economic consequences, and (b) while the NBA will follow Chinese law in China, the Chinese Communist Party must respect that the association will abide by American laws and principles in its global operations, including by not conditioning employment on any guidelines of expression on international political issues.

2. Suspend NBA activities in China until government-controlled broadcasters and government-controlled commercial sponsors end their boycott of NBA activities and the selective treatment of the Houston Rockets, and emphasize that the association will stand unified in the face of future efforts by Chinese government-controlled entities to single out individual teams, players, or associates for boycotts or selective treatment.

3. Reevaluate the NBA’s training camp in Xinjiang, where up to a million Chinese citizens are held in concentration camps as part of a massive, government-run campaign of ethno-religious repression.

4. Clarify in internal association documents that public commentary on international human rights repression including in Tibet, Hong Kong, and Xinjiang falls within expected standards of public behavior and expression.

Full letter:

How long before Australia receives a similar letter?

More background from Sinocism:

NBA and China: All official Chinese partners have suspended ties with the league – CNN

NBA China lists 11 wholly-owned Chinese companies as its official partners in the country on its website, all of which now say they have halted business with the league, according to a review by CNN Business of company statements and social media posts.

Chinese organizers cancel NBA fan event amid free speech row – Reuters

The Shanghai Sports Federation said the cancellation of the fan event ahead of Thursday’s game between the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers was due to the “inappropriate attitude� of Morey and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

A Wednesday afternoon press conference with both teams was indefinitely delayed, organisers said. Outside the team hotel, workers tore down massive banners advertising the game, according to a Reuters witness.

NBA fans in China seek refund from Tencent as streaming suspended – Reuters

Tencent extended its NBA partnership through 2024-25 season in July, according to an NBA statement. The value of the deal was not disclosed, but Chinese sports news portal Lanxiong Sports reported it was worth about $1.5 billion.

The Onion [Satire] – Chinese Officials Respond To NBA Controversy By Moving Millions Of Citizens To NHL Re-Fanification Camps

To show that China will not tolerate this flagrant disrespect for our nation amongst the ranks of the NBA, we intend to enlighten our citizens in the ways of the National Hockey League,� said Vice Premier Han Zheng, overseeing the first of many re-fanification ceremonies in a detention center outside of Beijing where citizens were encouraged at gunpoint to throw NBA merchandise into bonfires

China Forces the N.B.A. to Weigh Value Against Values | The New Yorker – Evan Osnos

That strategy opens a seemingly boundless new arena for Chinese censorship beyond its borders—and the chances of a significant backlash. When China applies the full-court press in its pursuit of “discourse power,� it undermines its very objective of improving its image. In attempting to look strong, China ends up looking like a fragile bully. Li Hongmei, a communications scholar at Miami University, in Ohio, studied a previous nationalist dispute with Taiwanese critics and found that only a minority of those who were targeted by China accepted its arguments. “But many others laughed at the oversensitivity of mainland Chinese, stating, ‘People of a powerful country have a heart made of glass,’ � Li wrote.

As a strategy, China’s efforts to micromanage global conversation is emboldening its critics and eroding the support of its friends. When Yao Ming entered the N.B.A., his rise and success presented an ideal portrait of Chinese soft power. The more that Chinese officials try to remake that portrait, the faster it deteriorates.

Internal Memo: [Disney’s] ESPN Forbids Discussion Of Chinese Politics When Discussing Daryl Morey’s Tweet About Chinese Politics

Chuck Salituro, the senior news director of ESPN, sent a memo to shows mandating that any discussion of the Daryl Morey story avoid any political discussions about China and Hong Kong, and instead focus on the related basketball issues. The memo, obtained by Deadspin, explicitly discouraged any political discussion about China and Hong Kong. Multiple ESPN sources confirmed to Deadspin that network higher-ups were keeping a close eye on how the topic was discussed on ESPN’s airwaves.


Hu Xijin of the Global Times is smart, he knows if China goes too far on the NBA it is bad for China too, says the NBA must pay an unspecified price but China should not overdo it.

Chinese Media’s Attacks on Apple and N.B.A. Help Inflame Nationalism – The New York Times

As China seeks to contain pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong, state-run news outlets are increasingly lashing out at foreign companies, accusing them of enabling the protest movement.


website of the Central Politics and Law Commission weighs in, attacks Silver, asks whose freedom is Western “freedom of speech”:

â€�If we really support freedom of speech, please see clearly the reality of Hong Kong and make a fair judgment on this basis. If you still want to confuse the public and the public, please calmly bear the “parting of the ways” of Chinese merchants, and the “blocking” of Chinese fans.



Silver is now more of a target of official ire than Morley, this from CCTV Sports:

“Obviously, Silver and others are deliberately misinterpreting the concept of “freedom of speech” as a shield to confuse the public and the public. The so-called freedom of speech is never absolute. Any speech that challenges national sovereignty and social stability does not belong to the scope of freedom of speech. The chicanery of Silver and Morley only shows their ulterior motives and arrogance.

Silver continues to quibble in his latest statement. Say what, the values of equality, respect, and free speech have long defined the NBA. But equality and respect are mutual. Morey’s erroneous remarks do not respect China’s sovereignty and national dignity. Silver’s attitude does not reflect the attitude of equality, but is to protect deliberately provocative other countries’ sovereignty, hurt the feelings of the Chinese people’s remarks. What they say and do is not to uphold NBA values, but to undermine them.



Sixers Fan Claims He Was Ejected From Team’s Exhibition Vs. China’s Guangzhou For Supporting Hong Kong – CBS Philly

Wachs, a Philly resident who lived in Hong Kong for two years, says he was also wearing a “Free Hong Kong� T-shirt.

Shortly after tip-off, Wachs says security members saw the signs and told him “no politics.�

When Wachs questioned, he says a security guard said not to give him a hard time and took away the signs.

Roughly midway through the second quarter, Wachs says he stood up and yelled “Free Hong Kong.� He says he was then ejected from the game.

Question: What will Joe Tsai do when fans do this at Brooklyn Nets’ games?

Is Apple helping HK rioters engage in more violence? – People’s Daily Online

Business is business, and politics is politics. Nobody wants to drag Apple into the lingering unrest in Hong Kong. But people have reason to assume that Apple is mixing business with politics, and even illegal acts. Apple has to think about the consequences of its unwise and reckless decision.

Foreign companies probably don’t understand the sentiments and way of thinking of Chinese people. Our ancestors had been bullied. But today we are united more than ever. On issues involving principles, we have zero tolerance for wrongdoings. Providing a gateway for “toxic apps� is hurting the feelings of the Chinese people, twisting the facts of Hong Kong affairs, and against the views and principles of the Chinese people.

A couple of excellent poddies on the deteriorating bilateral relationship as well:

The U.S.-China relationship is bad, and it’s getting worse. In part one of this two-part podcast, Paul Haenle sat down with Da Wei, assistant president of and professor at the University of International Relations in Beijing, to discuss Chinese perceptions of the Trump administration one month after the August 1st tariff announcements.

Da Wei said the Trump administration has focused China’s attention on the need to address underlying issues in the bilateral relationship, but that it has overstepped. President Trump’s use of tariffs has hardened Chinese views and limited Beijing’s ability to make concessions, even if they are in China’s self-interest, without appearing weak. Trump’s decision to impose new tariffs on China following the Osaka G20 meeting and Shanghai negotiations reinforced Chinese views that Trump is unreliable and may even change his mind even if a deal is struck. Da Wei argued Trump’s objectives are different from those of his advisors. Officials in the administration have a range of economic and security goals that are not necessarily aligned with Trump’s. However, Da Wei said that a majority of Chinese people now believe that the United States seeks to undermine China’s rise.


Paul Haenle holds the Maurice R. Greenberg Director’s Chair at the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy based at Tsinghua University in Beijing. His research focuses on Chinese foreign policy and U.S.-China relations.


Da Wei is assistant president of and professor at the University of International Relations in Beijing. He also serves as the director of the University’s Center for International Strategy and Security Studies. Previously he was the director of the Institute of American Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR).

Part 1: Is the U.S.-China Relationship in Free Fall?

Part 2: Is the U.S.-China Relationship in Free Fall?

There’s a backlash in China. Now a backlash against the backlash in the US. Pretty soon there’ll be little else.

David Llewellyn-Smith
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