Business

‘Summer hooliganism’: China media slams National Basketball Association in free speech row

Share
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks during a welcome reception for the NBA Japan Games 2019 between the Toronto Raptors and the Houston Rockets in Tokyo Japan Monday Oct. 7 2019

Although there is no National Basketball Association franchise in China, the league's stature grew tremendously in the late '90s and 2000s thanks to Yao Ming, a superstar center and foreign ambassador to the game.

Silver's first statement expressed regret that the Friday night tweet by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey supporting protesters in Hong Kong had offended the league's friends and fans in China.

Days ago, Daryl Morey, the GM for the Houston Rockets, tweeted out an image that included the text, "Fight for freedom, Stand with Hong Kong". "Adam said something that helps you understand what direction you need to go in, rather than the cowardice of not being able to respond to something of the murder of [U.S. journalist Jamal] Khashoggi".

Yao, who is yet to comment publicly on the controversy, enjoys a stature in China matching his massive 7-foot 5-inch (2.28 metre) height. "We're strongly dissatisfied and oppose Adam Silver's claim to support Morey's right to freedom of expression", the statement read.

Ross provided another example in which a Taiwanese student told fellow students in London that "I may look Chinese, but please don't think I am Chinese". As he has sought to maintain good relations with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump has appeared reluctant to publicly criticize Beijing over its handling of the Hong Kong demonstrations that have lasted for weeks.

No one has been killed in several months of protests in Hong Kong, although scores - mostly protesters and journalists - have been hurt.

"Basketball fans and the American people more broadly should have absolutely no doubt about what is happening here: The NBA wants money, and the Communist Party of China is asking them to deny the most basic of human rights", Sen.

Silver, speaking on Tuesday (October 8) in Japan before a preseason game between the Rockets and Toronto Raptors, said it was not up to the league to regulate what players, employees and team owners said.

All of the NBA's official Chinese partners have suspended ties with the league as it grapples with the fallout from a team manager's controversial tweet about Hong Kong.

Trump, in response to the question of whether China should be putting pressure on the NBA, said, "The NBA's a different thing". "I've had a lot of stuff going on in my personal life so I need to sit down".

He notes that China's equally passionate football fans can choose among the English, Spanish, Italian or other leagues. You can't support human rights in the United States, but back down overseas because it doesn't serve your financial interests.

Give Silver credit for standing up for free speech, albeit a bit late.

Chinese state television has already cancelled plans to air exhibition games played in China this week, saying in a statement that a country's sovereignty and social stability were "not within the scope of freedom of speech".

The NBA's initial response to Morey's tweet drew bipartisan criticism from prominent USA politicians, including Sen.

The protests in Hong Kong were sparked by a proposed extradition law that would have allowed suspects to be sent to China to face trial.

Share