The People’s Republic of the National Basketball Association

Compared to my previous work, this article should be rather transient. I’m not one to enjoy political discussion in entertainment or sports, unless it’s being presented in an engaging and entertaining fashion, but when the situation calls for it, I can certainly provide an opinion. This is one of those times.

The NBA has been in a tumultuous setting recently, with multiple fans being removed from games for voicing their support with Hong Kong. For anyone unaware, Hong Kong is a region in Southeastern China that was under British rule from 1842 until 1997, when the United Kingdom returned administrative duties back to mainland China. The handover marked the official end of The British Empire, but it also empowered the Chinese communist government, as Hong Kong’s highly developed economy has assisted in China securing foreign funds1.

The “one country, two systems” rule that was in effect even during British rule has endured under China’s administration over the region, which has largely allowed Hong Kong to act independently of mainland China in business, while also granting them freedom of expression and an independent judiciary. However, the strong grasp of mainland China was felt this year, as the proposed Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation2 bill put fear into the hearts of many residents of Hong Kong, and really, people worldwide. The proposed bill could extradite anyone accused of a crime by the Chinese government from anywhere they consider Chinese territory, and bring them to the mainland to face punishment for their crimes. A growing sentiment of self-identity and the right to govern themselves has grown amongst Hongkongers since the turn of the millennium, something this great country I reside in, The United States of America, similarly came to the conclusion of long before anyone alive today was born to witness.

It’s why I find myself disgusted with LeBron James, someone who propped themselves up as an activist, and was viewed by many as a voice for the disenfranchised. However, when it comes to human rights violations in countries other than his own, especially ones that go against the corporate interests of his long-time sponsor Nike, as well as his employer, the NBA, who’s second-biggest market is China, he’s unable to voice his support. In fact, according to LeBron, the person who originally started this whole fiasco, Daryl Morey, needs to become more educated on the matter, as well as throwing out the statement that, “So, just be careful what we tweet, what we say, and what we do, even though, yes, we do have freedom of speech. There can be a lot of negative that comes with that too.”3 I don’t even have words for that.

It just shows how out-of-touch some famous people can be, I mean, how ironic is it that LeBron states Morey was “only thinking for himself,” by tweeting his support of Hong Kong, when LeBron himself is staying clear of the situation to maximize his earnings? It’s an absolute slap in the face to anyone who cares about the situation, and the ex-fans of LeBron in Hong Kong showed their disdain for the fallen “king” by gathering together and burning his jersey4. I’m glad that this moment opened many people’s eyes to the fact that many athletes will say something publicly because they were told to do so by large corporations. It’s not easy accepting that fact, but once you do, it’s much more enjoyable when you discover an athlete who is genuine in his thoughts and beliefs.

Is China’s openly communist government the worst offender when it comes to cruel mistreatment of its people? It’s hard to say, as anywhere from 80-to-95 percent of Chinese residents support their one-party government, as the Communist Party of China essentially runs unopposed during so-called “election” years, but we all know how restrictive the government is on its people, and how those numbers can be falsified. The people of China aren’t even allowed open access to the internet, nor are they given the option to conceive over two children, by far the most restrictive censorship and population planning of any country on Earth. Amnesty International’s report on China’s human rights violations is eye-opening to say the least5, as an increasing number of activists and human rights defenders were detained by police without due process, held without access to a lawyer, and were tortured for long periods of time, or outright died in custody.

Many foreign governments allege that the Chinese government regularly sanctions or even organizes these abuses, and I fail to see how Chinese non-government organizations, and even citizens, can say these are a benefit to Chinese interests. Should foreign countries intervene? It’s hard to say, as a full-scale assault would certainly plunge the world into another world war, but on a basic level, I fail to see how citizens of other countries would support an attack on China when many would find issue with their own country’s government; proving such a move to be incredibly hypocritical.

I myself would take great issue with attacking a foreign country, especially one that President Trump has already gone on a full-blown trade war with since January 22nd, 20186. There are no resolutions on the horizon, as both countries are seemingly content with ruining their already rocky relations with one another in order to find out who really has the better economy. The past few years have seen many athletes call out Trump and decline invitations to the White House in response to his perceived racist rhetoric, but it appears that most of NBA is content with sitting back and collecting a paycheck from globalist politics; regardless of if those policies place foreign citizens in danger, or if those same policies could potentially cause a negative economic impact on the rest of the nation.

Editor’s Notes

  1. – 9/4/2019 – How important is Hong Kong to the rest of China?
  2. – June 2019 – Is This the End of a Free Hong Kong?
  3. Washington Post – 10/15/2019 – LeBron James draws scrutiny for comments critical of Daryl Morey’s Hong Kong tweet
  4. AP News – 10/15/2019 – LeBron James no longer King James for Hong Kong protesters
  5. Amnesty International – China 2017/2018
  6. Wall Street Journal – 1/22/2018 – U.S. Imposes New Tariffs, Ramping up ‘America First’ Trade Policy

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