Hong Kong, Tibetan Protesters in NYC

Hong Kong, Tibetan Protesters in NYC

The National Basketball Association’s stance on China came back to bite it Friday, as pro-democracy activists united in protest at the Brooklyn Nets/Toronto Raptors game in New York City. The demonstrators were a mix of Tibet rights activists and supporters of the recent uprising in Hong Kong — and they’re all annoyed at the NBA.

Communist China is a major investor in the NBA, and pro-freedom activists say this is influencing the association’s silence on China’s brutal crackdown in Hong Kong. There’s been particular criticism of Los Angeles Lakers player LeBron James, often called “the face of the NBA,” who’s been trying to suppress any criticism of the Beijing regime.

James has frequently used his NBA platform to speak out for causes he believes in, which tend to involve opposition to the Republican Party and President Trump. However, when the cause of the day is a communist crackdown on people who just want the democratic rights they were promised when China took over Hong Kong in 1997, James is silent — and, worse, he’s trying to silence anyone who does speak out.

Critics have pointed out that, as well as direct Chinese sponsorship of the NBA, the country also invests heavily in Nike — and James has an endorsement deal with Nike that could potentially earn him a billion dollars. Does that explain his pro-China stance? Students For A Free Tibet certainly think so; on Friday their director told reporters that James “is on the wrong side of history.” Meanwhile, protestors waved “Freedom for Hong Kong” banners at the Nets/Raptors game, while others burned replica James jerseys.

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