According to Foreign Policy, “an American business with a global footprint, one that prides itself on supporting freedom of speech in America, recently became an arm of Chinese censorship.”
Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, tweeted his way into a shitstorm—by supporting democracy. Morey has since deleted the Tweet proclaiming to “stand with Hong Kong,” which prompted a massive assault from Chinese state and social media—and a frantic rush by the NBA to disavow Morey.
Why? Because China is a $500 million market for the NBA, and growing. In fact, the market is so essential to the NBA that Morey is now begging for forgiveness on Twitter.
2/ I have always appreciated the significant support our Chinese fans and sponsors have provided and I would hope that those who are upset will know that offending or misunderstanding them was not my intention. My tweets are my own and in no way represent the Rockets or the NBA.
— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) October 7, 2019
James Palmer, the Foreign Policy journalist, wisely points out that the NBA is far from alone in this sillyness.
Myriad corporations have backed China’s attempts to censor and control beyond its borders, from hotel chains like Marriott firing staff who support Tibet to Western airlines adopting Chinese demands on Taiwan to Yahoo handing over the emails of dissidents. Groveling apologies to China have become the norm, even over the most inane misinterpretations.
Freedom Don’t Come for Free
The demands of the mostly student-led movement include a freely elected legislature and the right to choose a replacement for Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, who was appointed by Beijing. They are also demanding an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality in their handling of the protests.
According to NPR, the economy of Hong Kong, a vital international financial hub, has taken a beating during the months of protests, which have been exacerbated by the U.S.-China trade war.
CNN reported last week that during a private phone call in June between China’s president, Xi Jinping, and President Trump that Trump had promised his administration would stay silent on the situation in Hong Kong as long as trade talks continued.
In case it’s not yet clear, let’s make it painfully so. For the capitalists currently in control of the gloabl economy, money talks more loudly and powerfully than any other form of political ideology. This makes human rights abuses at home and abroad unfortunate, but not worth getting worked up about. Where there’s money to be made, nothing and no one is allowed to stand in the way.