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Thread: The New Chinese Era

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  1. #51
    NBA: 'We are not apologizing' on Hong Kong tweet

    'The NBA will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say on these issue,' says NBA Commissioner Adam Silver

    Agence France-Presse

    @afp

    Published 6:59 PM, October 08, 2019

    Updated 6:59 PM, October 08, 2019

    SAITAMA, Japan – The NBA will not regulate speech and won't apologize for a controversial tweet from a Houston Rockets executive that has sparked a Chinese backlash, the organization's commissioner said Tuesday, October 8.

    The tweet by the Rockets' general manager Daryl Morey supporting pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong has infuriated fans in China, a major market for the NBA.

    But commissioner Adam Silver said the organization would continue to "support freedom of expression and certainly freedom of expression of the NBA community."

    "Morey enjoys that right," he added, speaking at a press conference in Japan where the Rockets are playing two exhibition games this week.

    "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. We simply could not operate that way," Silver said in a statement shortly before the press conference.

    He reiterated that view to reporters.

    "We are not apologizing for Daryl exercising his freedom of expression," he added, though he expressed "regret" that "so many people are upset, including millions and millions of our fans."

    'Daryl Morey is supported in terms of his ability to exercise his freedom of expression,' says NBA Commissioner Adam Silver

    'We believe that any comments that challenge national sovereignty and social stability are not within the scope of freedom of speech,' says CCTV in a statement

    The tweet posted Friday has provoked an international firestorm, with China suspending broadcasts of NBA exhibition matches on its state broadcaster and sponsors cutting ties with the Rockets.

    China is the NBA's biggest market outside the United States, and the Rockets are hugely popular there, harking back to their signing of Chinese star Yao Ming, who Silver said was "extremely upset" about Morey's tweet.

    Silver acknowledged that the controversy was having significant consequences – it has largely overshadowed a trip meant to help boost the brand in Japan and China – but said the organization would have to "live with those consequences."

    "It's not something we expected to happen, it's unfortunate, but if that's the consequence of us adhering to our values, we still feel its critically important we adhere to those values," he added.

    Silver said he understood Morey's tweet, which has since been deleted, "hit what I would describe as a third rail issue."

    "Of course I would like people associated with the NBA to be sensitive about other people's cultures, I think saying that by no means suggests we are going to regulate their speech," he said.

    "As a business that operates globally, we always have an eye on local mores, local customs, but again, that's not prescriptive."

    The NBA has been forced on the defensive after its initial statement responding to the crisis was slammed across the political spectrum in the United States for bowing to China.

    Silver said he still expects to travel to China later this week, and that there were no plans to cancel events.

    "It's my hope that when I'm in Shanghai I can meet with the appropriate officials and see where we stand," he said. – Rappler.com
    FRIENDS LANG KAMI

  2. #52
    Changed forever

    Jerome Taylor

    Wednesday 2 October 2019

    Hong Kong -- “And you fretted this was going to be a quiet patch,” I thought to myself as the tear gas grenade exploded right above me. One of a cluster, it detonated with a flash, sending a host of smaller capsules rolling down the street as they disgorged their acrid payload.

    A man and a woman without any safety equipment appeared, dousing the capsules with water.

    “Hey cops, fuck your mum!” the woman shouted.

    “Corrupt cops!” yelled the man, shaking his fist.

    The two were shopping in this corner of the city when the police turned up looking for hardcore activists from a rally earlier in the day. A small crowd gathered to heckle the cops, as many Hong Kongers do these days, and they joined in. And when the tear gas came flying in response, they leapt into action -- without a gas mask, or a helmet -- like it was the most natural thing in the world.

    Welcome to the new Hong Kong, I thought to myself.

    When I took over as AFP’s bureau chief for Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan last December there was a part of me that worried the patch might be too quiet.

    I had covered the huge, largely peaceful pro-democracy “Umbrella Movement” protests in 2014 but moved to Bangkok just before they ended to take up a posting in the rarely dull Mekong region.

    By the time I got back to Hong Kong three years later, the city’s pro-democracy movement felt moribund.

    The Umbrella activists had failed to win any concessions from Beijing, most of its leaders had been prosecuted and attendance at regular rallies had dwindled.

    My predecessor had written a lovely piece on her departure, entitled: “Kill the chicken to scare the monkey”. Similar to the western phrase of using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut, the Chinese idiom is shorthand for deploying heavy-handed tactics to make an example out of someone to deter others from following their path.

    As 2019 kicked off and I settled into the bureau, I figured the likelihood of a major protest movement breaking out in Hong Kong any time soon was pretty slim. I probably ought to mug up on my financial news skills, I joked to friends. Remind me what an IPO is again?

    But I would soon learn a few dead chickens had not scared anyone. Enter the extradition bill.

    Introduced by the city’s unelected pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam at the start of the year, it proposed allowing extraditions to the authoritarian mainland.

    Lam and Beijing described it as a much-needed loophole plug. Most Hong Kongers saw it as the final straw following years of sliding freedoms.

    In just weeks, the bill single-handedly resurrected Hong Kong’s democracy movement, which came back angrier than ever before in what has now morphed into the greatest challenge to Beijing’s rule since the city’s 1997 handover by Britain.

    The last four months have been an exhausting roller coaster for the entire city.

    Weekend after weekend we have seen huge rallies, especially early on in the movement when as many 1-2 million people hit the streets -- an astonishing figure in a city of 7.8 million inhabitants.

    But we have also seen unprecedented levels of violence in a once stable metropolis unused to such scenes.

    Protesters were much more willing to fight the police from the start -- as well as attack the city’s parliament in a bid to stop the bill being debated.

    Years of peaceful protests had achieved nothing, they argued, only direct action would stop the bill. And they were almost certainly right.

    Had Hong Kongers not taken to the streets, not besieged the parliament, not built barricades, not blocked roads and not fought back against the police, there is little doubt the bill would have become law.

    But a vicious cycle has ensued.

    Hong Kong’s once widely admired police force has resorted to tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannons and baton charges with unprecedented frequency.

    When I speak to senior officers they insist their response has been restrained compared to many forces around the world, and there is clearly some truth to that.

    Were this Kashmir, or mainland China, France or the United States, I have no doubt we’d have seen far more injuries and quite possibly many deaths.

    But this is a city unused to political street battles and every police escalation has sparked renewed outrage each week from protesters and an uptick in their response, especially when officers failed to respond quickly to a brutal July attack by Beijing supporters against protesters that left some 40 people hospitalised.

    Since then hardcore protesters have gone from throwing bricks and breaking into the city’s parliament in a bid to stop the bill being debated, to regularly hurling Molotov cocktails and using slingshots.

    Ugly fights now break out across the ideological divide, with street brawls an increasingly common occurrence leaving pools of blood on the ground. There have also been multiple suicides linked to the movement.

    For the AFP team covering Hong Kong’s summer of rage it has been testing.

    The office is now a place stocked with boxes of gas masks, breathing filters and helmets -- all items that have become increasingly hard to locate.

    For years, Hong Kong has been the place AFP Asia colleagues travel to from much riskier countries to take our hostile environment training course, which is taught on a tranquil outlying island.

    Now it is a news patch where that training is invaluable, our photo and video teams adept at dodging water cannons and rubber bullets or making sure to avoid synthetic clothing now that petrol bombs have become the norm.

    With police shooting a protester in the chest with a live round on Tuesday, I fear we may need to break out the ballistic vests.

    As bureau chief, my role is to oversee our editorial output and coordinate our text, photo and video teams on the ground and every weekend I fret for their safety.

    I know the longer we spend on the streets, the higher the risk that something might go wrong.

    But we also know we have to document history in the making -- it’s why we were all drawn to journalism in the first place. Balancing the safety of our colleagues with that need to witness is perhaps the most challenging part of the job.

    Yet there’s nowhere else we’d rather be.

    As I sit in our small Hong Kong bureau down the hall from our much larger Asia-Pacific newsroom, filing the final wrap of the evening after another long day of protests and clashes, our Whatsapp groups still pinging with messages and the livestreams flickering on my computer screens, I long to shove the laptop in my backpack and hit the streets, returning to my ever patient wife in the small hours, sweat-drenched and stinking of tear gas.

    We snatch the odd day off in the week when we can and then steel ourselves for the weekend ahead, often reinforced by reporters, photographers and video-journalists from our amazing global AFP network. They bring fresh ideas, energy and experience.

    We’ve had a couple of injuries but thankfully nothing serious.

    Others have been less lucky.

    Local reporters have sustained some bad wounds and found themselves attacked by mobs, mostly Beijing supporters who have a far more hostile view towards the media than pro-democracy protesters.

    Hundreds of protesters have been wounded, some with life-changing injuries, including a woman whose cheek bone was shattered by a projectile.

    Many police officers have also been hospitalised. One image sent to me by a police contact showed an officer’s badly burned legs after a Molotov landed at his feet.

    Sentiment is hardening on all sides.
    FRIENDS LANG KAMI

  3. #53
    ^ (Continued from above)

    As an international finance hub with a huge population of foreign immigrants (I loathe the word expat) the demand for news from Hong Kong has been insatiable.

    The world is truly watching.

    Our journalists constantly try to go beyond the headlines.

    They have embedded with youngsters on the frontlines, the medics and the elderly protesters. We’ve profiled people who found love and those who’ve had families torn apart.

    We’ve also tried to tell the other side of the story -- the police officers doxxed by protesters, the struggling businesses, the Chinese mainlanders living in Hong Kong, their loyalties divided.

    Even away from the barricades the protests are impossible to ignore.

    Virtually every neighbourhood across the city has its own “Lennon Wall” -- usually a space next to a subway station covered in sticky protest notes and posters.

    I pop in on my local wall every couple of days to see now regular faces and catch up on the latest plans. The very streets of Hong Kong are now a constantly evolving canvas of dissent.

    When I walk past a school in the morning, there’s a good chance I might see students forming a human chain or handing out posters.

    On a commute into town my phone routinely pings with digital flyers sent via Bluetooth and Airdrop.

    Head to a mall and I might spot a flashmob singing “Glory to Hong Kong”, a new anonymously-penned protest anthem that has gone viral the last three weeks.

    Amazing moment just now.

    Just filed our last
    @AFP
    wrap of the evening after today’s intense protest clashes when I heard a violin playing “Glory to Hong Kong” somewhere nearby.

    Stepped onto my balcony and caught the very end.
    pic.twitter.com/W0e0yTyW2V
    — Jerome Taylor (@JeromeTaylor)
    September 29, 2019


    ​Or the crowd might be pro-Beijing, waving Chinese flags and singing the Chinese national anthem.

    If I open my windows at 10pm each evening, there’s a good chance I will hear regular protest chants echoing off the surrounding skyscrapers in what has become a nightly ritual.

    When I’m out I almost always make sure to hang my press card around my neck and I’ve lost count of how many times strangers have come up to me to tell me their views, some breaking down in tears.

    On a recent subway ride back home after some clashes, I noticed a young boy looking wide-eyed at the helmet and gas mask hanging from my camera bag. His mother was explaining what they were for.

    “I wish I didn’t have to have these conversations with him,” she told me, adding she supported the protests and had been out a few times. “But it’s important he knows what’s happening to Hong Kong.

    It’s rarer to find Beijing supporters opening up to me. Suspicion of foreign media runs deep in the so-called ‘Blue Ribbon” camp and, like other reporters, I’ve been shouted and spat at while covering their rallies.

    But given the polarised atmosphere and increasingly common street fights, I think many government loyalists are worried about putting their head above the parapet and saying so publicly, let alone to a foreign reporter.

    Wherever I go, whether it’s in Hong Kong or overseas, the most commonly asked question is what happens next?

    And the truth is, I honestly don’t know.

    Worried emails and messages from friends and family pour in regularly to those living in the city.

    Recently a foreign friend told me she had received a frantic email from her father urging her to evacuate the city -- fearful the tanks were about to roll in any minute.

    Local friends routinely talk about their “Plan B” -- where they might go should the situation deteriorate further. Some are lucky and have dual passports. But many don’t.

    It’s clear that in the long run Beijing is fed up with Hong Kong and will be determined to find ways to lance what it sees as an increasingly frustrating democratic boil on its otherwise authoritarian body.

    The country’s leadership put on huge celebrations and a military parade on October 1 to mark the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. But in Hong Kong, we witnessed the most sustained clashes so far this summer, ensuring the headlines for Beijing that day were far from laudatory.

    The one thing Beijing won’t do is give in. That is not how the Chinese Communist Party operates, especially not under Xi Jinping.

    But equally, the largely leaderless Hong Kong protesters are in no mood to leave the streets either.

    Unlike 2014’s Umbrella protests, where mainstream opinion quickly tired of the disruption, this year’s protests have an acutely more existential feel and huge crowds of moderates still keep coming out to show support for the radicals.

    Umbrella lasted 79 days. This year’s protests are 116 days (FROM OCT 1) and counting. The summer of rage has wound its way into autumn and could easily extend into the winter.

    Whatever happens in the short term, the fallout will reverberate for years to come.

    One evening recently I went down to my local neighbourhood park as people celebrated the mid-Autumn festival -- the second most important celebration in the Chinese calendar.

    Thousands of protesters had hiked up some of the city’s best known hills to hold a spectacular light show protest on their peaks, shining laser lights, torches and lanterns that could be seen for miles around.

    The less hardy had gathered in parks and along the harbour to shine lasers back at the hills above, cheering each time the beams met.

    As I watched the show I got chatting with a lady in her forties called Joyce.

    She told me it was the first time in her life that she had not been sat round a dinner table with her family on mid-Autumn festival. Her brother and his wife were both in the police and no-one saw eye-to-eye any more.

    She described herself as a moderate protester who had hit the streets in 2014 and again in 2019.

    But in that time, something had changed inside her.

    “Our freedoms kept shrinking, and marching wasn’t working,” she said. “Personally I am a peaceful protester, but I have a higher tolerance for violence these days and I support the youth.”

    Her biggest fear, she said, was the movement losing steam, and she welled up at the thought.

    Her husband Kevin put his arm around her shoulder.

    “Even if it dies down, the movement will remain in people’s hearts,” he said softly. “Even if the government and police win, the anger will not go away. Unless our demands are met it will linger for years, filter down from generation to generation.”

    Not for the first time this summer, I found myself thinking: “This city will never be the same again.”
    FRIENDS LANG KAMI

  4. #54
    Mainlanders among Hong Kong protesters, though many stay away

    [AFP via Yahoo]

    AFP, July 11, 2019

    As Hong Kong is rocked by political chaos, Chinese mainlander Briony Lin has found herself joining the mass protests, an act that would be unthinkable under the authoritarian regime back home.

    The huge rallies and clashes coursing through the international finance hub are the latest outburst of anger by Hong Kongers who believe Beijing is stamping down on the city's unique freedoms and culture.

    But for the hundreds of thousands of Chinese mainlanders who make the city their home, the movement sparks mixed emotions.

    Some strongly disagree with the protests, which were set off by a now-suspended plan to allow extraditions to the Chinese mainland.

    Many have sympathies with the movement, but keep it to themselves -- fearful of retribution by Chinese authorities, or being made to feel unwelcome by local protesters.

    A small number of people, like Lin, have taken to the streets.

    "This is the first social movement that I've experienced," said the 27-year-old, who moved to Hong Kong four years ago from a city in northern China.

    "Hong Kong is the only place in China where freedom of speech can be exercised... I want to be there for my own rights and be there to see for myself what the protests are like," she told AFP.

    Lin said she was happy to give her name and, unlike many, eschewed wearing a mask at the rallies -- although she has stayed clear of the more violent confrontations.

    - Mainland influx -

    Some one million mainlanders have migrated to Hong Kong since its 1997 handover to China, a diaspora that is itself a source of friction in a city of 7.3 million beset by sky-high property prices and a huge housing shortage.

    Inside Hong Kong they are afforded the same free speech protections as any other inhabitant, but they risk censure or punishment on return to the mainland should authorities deem them to be critical of Beijing.

    Lin said she was indifferent to politics before she moved to the city.

    But the disappearance of five Hong Kong booksellers into Chinese mainland custody -- and discovering more about the Cultural Revolution on its 50th anniversary -- changed that.

    "If the (extradition) bill is passed, the disappearance of booksellers would happen again within the law," she said.

    Not all share Lin's bravado.

    In China the protests have been portrayed as a violent, foreign-funded plot, not a mass movement against Beijing's increased influence over the semi-autonomous hub.

    AFP approached some 20 mainland tourists in Kowloon to ask them their thoughts and only six had heard there were rallies.

    "It is rare to see protests on the mainland," said a 21-year-old student surnamed Zhu who said she had read about the protests on the Twitter-like Weibo platform.

    Another tourist, who gave her surname as Hao, said she had read in Chinese state media that Britain "participated in and provoked this incident".

    "I don't know whether it is correct or not," she added.

    Mainlanders who live in Hong Kong cannot profess such ignorance, but many "Hong Kong drifters" -- the phrase adopted by young, educated mainlanders who live and work in the finance hub -- are still very cautious about expressing political views.

    "Protesting is quite sensitive for us... I don't want to bear any risks," said Liu, 30, who works in insurance and came to Hong Kong seven years ago.

    He said many of his mainland contemporaries hoped the protests would die down soon.

    Kay Zeng, 28, from Guangdong province, just across the border with Hong Kong, said she disapproved of the extradition bill being rushed through, but would not take to the streets.

    "I've never participated in a march and I seldom publicly express my opinions," she told AFP.

    - 'Right thing to do' -

    But small numbers are adopting the pro-democracy cause.

    A group of mainland Chinese migrants openly participated in recent rallies, holding banners and shouting slogans in their own dialects, not the city's Cantonese language.

    Minnie Li, a university lecturer who came from Shanghai to Hong Kong in 2008, helped organise the group.

    She said mainland migrants have always attended pro-democracy rallies, but most of the time they kept themselves hidden in the crowd.

    Li said it took years for her to pluck up the courage to attend -- something she felt more able to do once she acquired a permanent residency card.

    "I believe visibility is a power. If you have a secret stance but dare not to tell others about it then you can't transform that into a power. So I hope to show our power through our presence," she told AFP.

    Some of the more hardline Hong Kong protesters take an openly hostile view towards mainlanders, calling them "locusts" and other insults.

    That animosity used to make Li hesitate, but not any more.

    "Your emotions, your action and your values aren't based on where you were born, or your ethnic group," she said.

    "You do something because you think it is the right thing to do."
    FRIENDS LANG KAMI

  5. #55
    Hong Kong's summer of protests leaves economy bruised and battered

    [AFP via Yahoo]

    Sean GLEESON, Yan ZHAO

    AFP, September 18, 2019

    As pro-democracy protests grind on for a fourth month, Hong Kong has been left counting the cost, with the city’s tourist industry battered and businesses forced to lay off staff as they struggle to stay afloat.

    Images beamed around the world of black-clad demonstrators battling police in full riot gear on streets usually lined with shoppers have led travellers to shun the financial hub.

    And with protesters and the government showing no signs of backing down, there are worries things will not improve any time soon.

    August witnessed the biggest fall in overseas visitors since the SARS epidemic of 2003 claimed nearly 300 lives and unleashed widespread panic in the city, according to government data.

    Among the worst-hit areas is Causeway Bay, a normally bustling commercial precinct home to a slate of luxury brands where last weekend shoppers and bystanders were caught up as police fired volleys of tear gas at masked youths.

    A neighbourhood pharmacist, who asked to be identified only by his surname Chiu, told AFP the overseas customers who accounted for half his sales had slowed to a trickle since the protests began in June.

    "The social atmosphere is not good," he said, adding that he has repeatedly had to shut his shop as tear gas canisters bounce down the street. Takings, he says, have tumbled 40-50 percent.

    "Local customers also seem to buy less."

    He said his business was faring worse than during 2014's Umbrella Movement, which saw the city grind to a standstill after a months-long blockade of busy roads.

    Across Hong Kong, on-year tourist arrivals fell 40 percent in the last month, the city’s financial secretary Paul Chan said, led by a collapse in visitors from the mainland -- by far the largest group.

    Hotel occupancy rates are down around half and the retail and dining sectors have been severely impacted.

    "It is worrying that so far there is no sign of improvement in the near future," Chan wrote in a blog post.

    - 'I don’t know if we can survive' -

    Adding to the problems for Hong Kong, the long-running crisis has coincided with weak global demand and the grinding China-US trade war.

    Earlier this month Fitch downgraded the city's sovereign rating citing the protests.

    Seasonally adjusted, the economy contracted by 0.4 percent in the second quarter -- most of which came before the pro-democracy rallies began -- while Chan also reported a 5.7-percent yearly fall in overall exports in the first half.

    No one is looking forward to third-quarter statistics.

    Crucially, the number of visitors from mainland China has tumbled after several full-throated condemnations of demonstrators by Beijing, which has likened the unrest to "terrorism".

    The number of mainland tour groups to the city plunged 90 percent on-year in the first 10 days of September, Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong spokeswoman Jessica Wan told AFP.

    Hong Kong’s flagship airline Cathay Pacific also reported an 11-percent yearly drop in passengers for August, when two occupations of the airport saw the blockade of departure gates and the cancellation of hundreds of flights.

    The airport saw a 12.4-percent monthly drop in passengers -- some 850,000 fewer travellers.

    Several other businesses told AFP their bottom lines had suffered through the long summer of discontent, sparked by a controversial extradition bill many fear would strengthen Beijing’s control over the city and further erode its cherished freedoms.

    Since June, when more than a million people marched through the city to protest the measure, the manager of a watch store said he had been forced to lay off half of its workforce.

    "You can see if you walk down the streets, several watch shops have been closed already," said the store's manager, surnamed Wong. "I’m pessimistic. I don’t know if we can survive through the new year."

    The protests tend to break out over the weekends -- the two days his shop is usually at its busiest.

    On the other side of the harbour in Mongkok, businesses said they were regularly shutting their doors early to avoid melees outside.

    The area around the neon-soaked retail precinct has seen escalating violence, with demonstrators barricading main roads and vandalising the local subway station -- and officers responding with baton charges.

    At one late-night outdoor market stall, a vendor selling imitation designer handbags said her takings were down five-fold from average sales at the start of the year.

    With no end in sight, Chiu, the pharmacist, seemed to be torn between his sympathies for the protesters and protecting his livelihood.

    "I don't support them damaging facilities, but I feel awful seeing them being beaten by police," he told AFP.

    He said he and his staff had left supplies of water outside his shop for protesters during street rallies, knowing other stores had closed.

    "I support the youngsters," he said. "But I also have a business to run."
    FRIENDS LANG KAMI

  6. #56
    From SI.com ...

    The NBA Should No Longer Do Business With China

    In what would be an unpopular move for both players and owners who are dependent on the Chinese market for an economic boost, the NBA should end its relationship with China.

    Rohan Nadkarni

    Oct 8, 2019

    Because nothing in 2019 is surprising anymore, the National Basketball Association—an entity’s popularity predicated on adults forming teams to put an orange sphere through a basket—is embroiled in a geopolitical scandal(???) with the whole-ass country of China(!!!) This is really happening, and while you probably don’t come to Sports Illustrated for hot geopolitical talk (especially when you see my byline), allow me to offer the quickest recap of this situation, because it took yet another turn Tuesday.

    This all started when Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, who may one day be looked at as the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of World War III, sent a thoroughly benign tweet (since deleted) about civil rights protests in Hong Kong. Morey’s tweet, “fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong,” is the intellectual equivalent of Little Debbie tweeting “Never Forget” on 9/11, that is, it is the most basic expression of a very uncontroversial ideal—freedom. The fallout from Morey’s comment was swift, however.

    Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta distanced Morey’s comments from the organization. The NBA released a weak statement in an attempt to plant themselves on the fence, apologizing to China but stopping short of fully condemning Morey. Meanwhile Morey—as well as Rockets star James Harden, somehow—sensing the business consequences of angering China, also apologized. The begging for forgiveness didn’t help—Chinese online stores pulled Rockets merchandise from their websites, and streaming giant Tencent said it would decline to show Rockets games.

    All of that brought us to Tuesday morning, when NBA commissioner Adam Silver—through a press release and conference in Tokyo—offered much more coherent thoughts on the incident. As Chinese state broadcaster CCTV (a little on the nose!) announced it would not air the NBA’s upcoming preseason games in Shanghai and Shenzhen, Silver said the league supports Morey’s right to freedom of expression, and while he hopes to meet with business partners soon in Shanghai to ease concerns, for now at least, Silver says the league will live with the economic consequences of the tweet. Phew.

    Silver’s comments Tuesday were a step in the right direction. The speed at which the NBA capitulated to China in the wake of Morey’s tweet was embarrassing. Nets owner Joe Tsai’s lengthy attempted explanation of why Chinese people are particularly sensitive to the situation in Hong Kong conveniently ignored Tsai’s own business interests, the use of propaganda to confuse and misinform the Chinese public, as well mischaracterized the protests in Hong Kong, which stem from overreaching extradition laws.

    If your head is spinning a little bit, that’s because the more you attempt to untangle the NBA’s relationship with China, the more moral quandaries you encounter. Morey deleting his tweet was perhaps merely only a public example of the erasure that too often happens when American companies are doing business with China. Even Disney, which basically owns 96% of American corporations, has acquiesced to Chinese political concerns in the past, because apparently there’s a huge difference in how the world works if Avengers: Endgame makes $3 billion as opposed to $2.5 billion.

    Silver’s plan moving forward is a little self-serving. He basically wants to Queer Eye the situation, hoping through face-to-face interaction with the NBA’s Chinese partners, he can repair the rift between the two sides, not forcing Morey to apologize while still expressing some level of sympathy, and then both the NBA and China can go on making billions of dollars together while acting like nothing happened. Silver’s plan is basically a hint of diplomacy that’s really about protecting the league’s business interests. But at what cost?

    We’ve now seen what China is willing to do over a tweet that, theoretically, most of its public couldn’t even see because Twitter is blocked in the country. This goes beyond the scope of the NBA, and far more intelligent people than me can explain how we’ve gotten here, but globalizing China’s economy has done little to nothing to pull its government closer to Western ideals of democracy. Instead, powerful American companies routinely find themselves bending over backwards for China, because the country has no hesitation in throwing its weight around over even the smallest perceived slight, and the money is too large for shameless capitalists to care about principles.

    Adam Silver’s job is to basically put a friendly face on the money-hungry side of the NBA. And he’s done a good job of framing his actions as progressive when they could just as easily be viewed as smart business practices. But continuing the league’s partnership with China in the wake of the Morey incident would be a particularly slippery slope.

    The NBA already made a moral sacrifice doing business in a country that oppresses its population. Currently, the league holds training camps at an academy in Xianjiang, the same province in which China is currently interning a million Muslims. Again, Morey’s fiasco is only a public example of how subservient the NBA can be to China. What else don’t we know? What will Silver say in private meetings with partners?

    The only way for the NBA to wash its hands of these issues is to completely move out of China altogether. It would be an unpopular move. Both players and owners are dependent on the Chinese market for an economic boost. Fans, too, would probably be a little upset when those salary cap projections came in a little lower because of a decrease in revenue.

    But it’s hard to see the cat getting put back in the bag here. It would take yeoman’s work for Silver to somehow capitulate privately while backing Morey publicly. China already asks for too much if it gets upset over a tweet. And it’s not the NBA that should be doing any apologizing or smoothing over after the events that have unfolded. Cutting ties would not only put the pressure back on the Chinese government to bring back something its population has grown to love, it could perhaps more blatantly expose how China is willing to manipulate its people depending on how the split would be framed by the state-run media.

    Silver will almost certainly protect the NBA’s business interests in the end, because that’s just the way our rapidly disintegrating world works. After all, he doesn’t work for Morey. He works for guys Fertitta and Tsai, the latter of whom is worth $9.5 billion, and yet he just barely cracks the list of the world’s 150 richest people. As long as China demands zero tolerance, however, the NBA should move to end the relationship, as opposed to widening the scope of its moral sacrifices.
    FRIENDS LANG KAMI

  7. #57
    Rockets GM Daryl Morey's Pro-Hong Kong Tweet Ignites Geopolitical Scandal Between NBA and China

    Will NBA Support Personnel Speaking Out When Millions of Chinese Dollars Are at Stake?

    Chris Mannix

    Oct 7, 2019

    NEW YORK — Daryl Morey tweeted, China responded, and on the opening weekend of the NBA preseason the league has found itself embroiled in a geopolitical scandal that threatens its relationship with a basketball starved country that generates hundreds of millions in revenue each year.

    Remember when tampering was the NBA’s biggest problem?

    Who knows why Morey, Houston’s affable, MIT-educated general manager chose Friday to tweet out support for Hong Kong’s freedom movement. Tensions between China and Hong Kong have boiled over in recent months, with protests sparked by China’s demand to extradite alleged criminals off Hong Kong and to the Chinese mainland breaking out on the island. The U.S., long supportive of the one-country, two-systems declaration Hong Kong agreed to with China in 1997, has faced criticism, with President Donald Trump telling China he would stay out of the current dispute, per CNN.

    It’s a mess.

    And the NBA has stepped right in it.

    The foundation of the NBA’s relationship with China is simple: Money, and a whole lot of it. Interest in NBA basketball grew slowly in China in the 1980’s and 90’s, took off when Yao Ming was drafted first overall in 2002 and is now growing at a feverish pace. More than 300 million people play basketball in China, the NBA will proudly tell you, with nearly 500 million watching on Tencent’s streaming platform last season. Some 21 million watched Game 6 of last season’s Finals alone.

    The NBA rakes in the cash, too. The league inked a new five-year deal with Tencent in June that’s reportedly worth at least $500 million. The NBA plays exhibition games in China—the Nets and Lakers will play there this week, with ESPN tagging along with a studio show—while top level players routinely make offseason trips to promote their sneaker lines.

    Morey’s tweet caused a panic among league officials, several sources familiar with the league office told SI.com. And with good reason: China’s response was swift. Chinese sponsors yanked money from the Rockets. The Chinese Basketball Association—helmed by, of course, Yao—suspended any cooperation with the Rockets. Tencent announced it would suspend coverage of anything related to Morey.

    It got bad, quickly. And it could get worse.

    “This will be a thing,” Ben Rhodes, a Deputy National Security Advisor under Barack Obama, told SI.com in an email. “Chinese state media feeds the Chinese people a steady diet of anti-Hong Kong protests propaganda, and will attack anyone perceived as not falling in line with the Chinese government. The Chinese public is very susceptible to this because the state controls so much of the media. It’s not uncommon for the Chinese government to pressure Western businesses to stay silent on human rights. In particular, they like to send a message that there will be consequences if you don’t fall in line, and it looks like they’re making the Rockets an example to send a message to the NBA.”

    Yes—and the NBA knows it. Rockets owner Tillman Fertitta quickly distanced the team from Morey’s tweet. Morey—one of the league’s most visible officials on social media, with over 200,000 followers—offered a clarification of his tweet (“I was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event) while emphasizing that his words were “my own and in no way represent the Rockets or the NBA.”

    On Sunday night, the NBA issued a boilerplate statement of its own, stopping short of admonishing Morey (“We recognize that the views expressed by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable”), which said the “values of the league support individuals’ educating themselves and sharing their views on matters important to them” while offering the league as a “unifying force to bridge cultural divides and bring people together.”

    Whatever.

    Here’s something the NBA must fear: The 45th president and the 65 million Twitter followers he has with him. Trump hates the NBA. Check that—Trump hates that NBA players have no time for him. The Warriors won two titles in Trump’s time in office. A White House visit, customary for a major sports champion, never happened. Stephen Curry has been critical of Trump. His coach, Steve Kerr, has too. In a response to Trump disinviting the Warriors to the White House, LeBron James called Trump a bum.

    Wading into this fight is tricky—dump on Morey and the NBA, risk showing passive approval for China’s actions in Hong Kong, not to mention going after a popular executive from a Texas sports team in an election cycle—but doesn’t this feel like just the kind of battle Trump likes to be in?

    The NBA wants this story to go away, which has infuriated some of its followers. The league is a strong supporter of its players and coaches taking stands on social issues, yet punts on its own opportunity to back an executive taking a position on one. The NBA yanked an All-Star game out of Charlotte because it didn’t like an intolerant bathroom law but is deeply embedded in China, a country that Human Rights Watch says has carried out “mass arbitrary detention, torture, and mistreatment” of Turkic Muslims living in the northwest regions of the country—among other things. The league supports the causes of its members … just not ones that impact the bottom line.

    That’s not a criticism—it’s a reality. Because the truth is Morey is right. China, says Rhodes, is effectively “attempting to erase [Hong Kong’s] civil liberties.” U.S. policy has long been to hold China to the agreement it made decades ago. China, in its attempt to drag people it deems criminals into its murky legal system—Chinese prosecutors win 99% of their cases—is attempting to undermine it. Says Rhodes, “the basic human rights of the people of Hong Kong are at stake. Will they be subsumed into mainland China, or will they still have a status that affords them more political freedoms?”

    This doesn’t just loom as one of the most significant challenge of Adam Silver’s tenure as commissioner—it’s the most. Soon, two of the NBA’s marquee teams will touch down in China. The NBA’s biggest star, James, will be with them. He will be asked about Morey’s message. His response will resonate around the world. The NBA has earned near universal praise for championing causes that don’t impact its income, for supporting players, even passively, for speaking out on issues that don’t dramatically change the bottom line.

    “I think the NBA should not police speech,” Rhodes said. “The people of Hong Kong are risking their lives to stand up for human rights and democracy; that’s more to risk than some money.”

    Indeed, this is a new problem, a bigger problem.

    The Chinese buy sneakers, too.
    FRIENDS LANG KAMI

  8. #58
    FRrom SI.com ...

    Adam Silver, NBA Stand Up to China Over Hong Kong Tweet

    Chris Mannix

    Oct 8, 2019

    Adam Silver is in a tough spot.

    Hold on: this isn’t the beginning of a full-throated defense of the NBA. The league’s initial reaction to Daryl Morey’s tweet supporting Hong Kong’s fight for freedom was awkward, to say the least. The NBA’s statement was a word salad, requiring several readings to get any kind of grasp on a position.

    Offending NBA fans in China was “regrettable?” Morey didn’t get busted peeing off the Great Wall. The Rockets GM tweeted his support for Hong Kong’s freedom, something much of the world—including the U.S.—supports. Gregg Popovich once called Donald Trump a “soulless coward.” You didn’t see a statement apologizing to millions of conservatives coming from Olympic Tower.

    Or “the values of the league support individuals’ educating themselves and sharing their views on matters important to them.” That one took a quadruple take. You can read that as the NBA supporting Morey’s right to weigh in. You can also squint at the words “educating themselves” and see it as the league’s way of passively suggesting that perhaps Morey waded into a conversation he didn’t fully understand.

    Joe Tsai understands it. Tsai was born in Taiwan, was educated in the United States and spent many of his formative years in China. He’s also the co-founder of e-commerce monolith Alibaba, which is the only line on his resume here that matters. The company was valued at $550 billion in 2015, with Tsai worth a cool $9.5 billion because of it. Tsai called the Hong Kong-China relationship a “third-rail issue.” Actually, he called Hong Kong’s “separatist movement” — a phrase straight out of a Chinese government talking point—a third-rail issue. He recounted China’s history with foreign occupiers, adding that “Chinese psyche has heavy baggage when it comes to any threat, foreign or domestic, to carve up Chinese territories.”

    Never, not once, did Tsai address that the most recent clash was sparked by an extradition bill that would have allowed suspects to be sent for trial in mainland China. Never, not once, did Tsai address the fact that protesters are fighting for China to keep the promise it made in 1997, when the British gave the city back to China: To allow a “high degree of autonomy,” guaranteeing Hong Kong free speech and a free press, capitalist markets and English common law under a “one country, two systems” agreement. Never, not once, did Tsai address how China’s murky legal system and long history of human rights abuses might make Hong Kong reluctant to be fully subsumed.

    As Ben Rhodes, Barack Obama’s former Deputy National Security Advisor, told SI.com, “the basic human rights of the people of Hong Kong are at stake.”

    This is the sticky wicket Silver stepped into, and this is why it was so important for him to connect on his second attempt to address it.

    And he did.

    Big time.

    In a new statement, Silver 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. We simply could not operate that way.” Later, to reporters, Silver said he understands that there are consequences to the kind of comments Morey made and “we will have to live with those consequences.” He called CCTV’s decision not to air Thursday’s preseason game between the Nets and Lakers “unfortunate” but added that “if that’s the consequence of us adhering to our values, we still feel it’s critically important to adhere to those values.”

    And that’s it. There’s nothing else to say. There’s nothing else Silver can say. He can’t please everyone. He shouldn’t try. SI’s Rohan Nadkarni suggested the NBA should cut ties with China. With respect to my podcast pal, that’s ridiculous. China didn’t Jack Bauer Morey—they are refusing to cover him or the team he works for. Tencent isn’t dumping the NBA—they are just declining to show Rockets games. China is a brutal, authoritarian government but should we hold the NBA to standards we don’t hold Apple and Abercrombie? Russia attempted to undermine the U.S. election in 2016—should the NBA sever all attempts to grow the game there? Turkey has been hunting Celtics center Enes Kanter for years for the high crime of criticizing Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Twitter. The NBA has played exhibition games in Turkey and a developing fan base there.

    It’s a slippery slope.

    Players and coaches will be pressured to take a position on the controversy, but spare me the calls that they have to. Yes, NBA players' bank accounts benefit from keeping China happy—many top players make offseason visits to China to promote new sneaker lines—but they have no obligation to have an opinion on any of this. Weighing in on California’s battle against the NCAA doesn’t compel you to pick sides in a decades-old territorial dispute. Criticizing Trump for policies you feel passionate about doesn’t mean you’re duty-bound to wear FREE HONG KONG tee shirts in layup lines.

    Ask yourself this: Last week, did you have a strong opinion on the Hong Kong conflict?

    Did you have any?

    Should athletes be held to a different standard?

    Silver cleaned up the NBA’s first statement and has declared the NBA willing to live with the fallout. And there will be fallout. The Rockets will lose money. The NBA will lose money. It’s unclear how far China will be willing to take this. The NBA has some leverage. China can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube, either. It’s a basketball-mad country with hundreds of millions of youths playing the game and millions more watching it. Ban the NBA, and there will be backlash. And while the NBA will miss the Chinese cash, they can certainly live without it.

    The NBA is standing up to China in the way few U.S. businesses have, and should be commended for it. Morey won’t be fired, sanctioned and by next spring will be explaining this bonkers story to a packed house at MIT’s Sloan Conference. It took a couple tries, but the NBA has done the right thing.

    But, seriously, Adam—stay out of Freedonia.
    FRIENDS LANG KAMI

  9. #59
    From ESPN ...

    NBA game in China played with some restrictions

    7:44 PM

    Dave McMenamin, ESPN Staff Writer

    SHANGHAI -- A tumultuous week for the NBA made a shift back toward normalcy with an actual basketball game played between the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets on Thursday.

    The Nets beat the Lakers 114-111 in the first of two exhibition games scheduled for the 2019 China Games. It tipped off at Mercedes-Benz Arena despite a string of cancellations in the past 72 hours calling the main event into question. The game was a temporary reprieve as the league continues to deal with the fallout from Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey's since-deleted tweet supporting protests in Hong Kong.

    While the basketball was familiar, there were still stark reminders of the situation that exists in China. Approximately 3½ hours before tipoff, an NBA spokesman informed reporters there would be no media availability of any kind for either team and that commissioner Adam Silver's previously scheduled pregame news conference was canceled.

    The stipulation, sources said, was at the behest of the Chinese government, which also had a hand in canceling two NBA Cares events, an NBA 2K League logo unveiling and a fan appreciation event in the days leading up to the game, causing many to question if the Lakers and Nets would make the lengthy trek and never even get a chance to face one another.

    While many of the staples of a typical NBA game were on display -- such as hip-hop music blasting over the public address system and dance teams taking the court during timeouts -- there was no mistaking how different this was.

    Many of the capacity crowd of 15,992 entered the arena toting hand-held Chinese flags that were being distributed outside. Before the starting lineups were announced, there was no singing of the national anthem -- not the American "Star-Spangled Banner" nor the Chinese "March of the Volunteers."

    But it wasn't completely foreign.

    Whatever unrest existed in the days leading up to the game was not reflected by the crowd during pregame warm-ups, as cheers erupted in the stands with every LeBron James dunk. And there were plenty of them, as the Lakers forward was clearly putting on a show.

    Dwight Howard tried to get in on the act too, throwing an alley-oop off the backboard to himself that caused as much amusement from his teammates as delight from the fans when Howard's warm-up pants fell down to his ankles when he landed on the floor after the throwdown.

    On the Nets side of the court, Kyrie Irving -- whose preseason debut was short-lived as he was ruled out after just one minute of playing time because he aggravated the facial fracture he suffered in an offseason pickup game -- had fans holding their cellphones in their outstretched arms, trying to capture his dribbling display on video.

    James continued to elicit adulation once play started, receiving boisterous approval after scoring the first bucket of the game on a layup and later hearing "MVP!" chants when shooting free throws during the first quarter.

    Of course, when James backpedaled downcourt after the free throws, he walked across a rough patch on the hardwood where a logo needed to be scrubbed from the surface in the days leading up to the game after a corporate sponsor pulled its commitment -- another reminder this wasn't just any other game.

    James finished with a team-high 20 points in 25 minutes and waved to the crowd as he made his way back to the locker room after the final buzzer, stopping briefly to toss his rubber bracelets and sweat-soaked headband to fans as souvenirs.

    Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, starting for the second time this preseason, missed a potential game-tying 3 as time expired, leading to a collective groan from the fans rooting for an overtime session.

    Spencer Dinwiddie paced the Nets with 20 points, helping Brooklyn's reserves outscore L.A.'s bench 81-41. Taurean Prince, acquired in an offseason trade with the Atlanta Hawks, led all Nets starters with 18 points.

    Rajon Rondo added 18 points and six assists for the Lakers, and Anthony Davis had 16 points and five assists.

    The Nets and Lakers will travel to Shenzhen to play again Saturday.

    A league official told ESPN he was unsure if the same media ban would be in place then.
    FRIENDS LANG KAMI


 
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