NBA Courts China with New TV Deal

March 5, 2021

If nine percent of Americans consider China a "partner," they must all work for the NBA. The rest of the country, as the latest headlines make painfully clear, is done with the communist tyrants. Nine out of 10 Americans see China as a "competitor" or "enemy" now, and half think we should limit their power. Gallup's numbers for President Jinping are even worse. They put China's unfavorable rating at 79 percent -- the worst in the history of the polling company. And they don't have a whole lot of faith that Joe Biden's policies will help.

Americans may cut the new administration some slack when it comes to foreign affairs, but their trust has limits. Of all the international issues on Biden's plate, his handling of China ranks worst. Sixty percent have confidence that he'll do the right thing on world issues in general, but when it comes to "dealing effectively" with the Chinese Communist Party, voters have their doubts. Only 53 percent believe in his ability to manage the relationship well -- the lowest of any foreign policy issue.

And his waffling on the genocide label over China's Uyghur treatment won't help. In a February townhall, President Biden tried to excuse the systematic rape, torture, and killing of two million minorities as "a different norm." Surprising everyone who's followed the atrocities of the internment camps, Biden waved away the abuses, saying, "Culturally there are different norms that each country and their leaders are expected to follow." Americans certainly don't see it that way. Both parties (Republicans at 72 percent, Democrats at 69 percent) feel strongly that the U.S. should protect human rights in China -- even if it hurts economic ties.

It's bad enough that liberal U.S. corporations like Nike and the NBA are legitimizing China with TV deals and overseas factories -- while they moralize at home about "discrimination" and social justice. The hypocrisy is so bad they don't even blush, Gordon Chang agreed. "We have a company called Nike that lectures the American People about racism, but actually had its shoes manufactured in conditions that really were slave labor, not just forced labor. This went on for decades. Nike obviously knew about it, although they denied it. Clearly, this is hypocrisy at a level that we've never seen. And we have a number of athletes in the NBA who are connected to Nike who have been lecturing us about all sorts of things."

And people are fed up, Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) warns. "They've just about had it [with the double standards and hypocrisy] because they're seeing it every day. It's one set of rules for the Left and then censorship and diminishment on the Right." In fact, she's so frustrated by the pro-China decisions of the NBA that she fired off a two-page letter demanding to know why the league would strike a deal with a television company that's at "the mercy of communist country." "While investigations into the origin of COVID-19 continue in Wuhan, the NBA seems solely focused on mending its relationship with CCTV," she wrote to commissioner Adam Silver.

Didn't they learn anything from the basketball camps the NBA ran in China? One league employee compared the atmosphere in their Xinjiang's complex to "World War II Germany." "One [coach] requested and received a transfer after watching Chinese coaches strike teenage players, three sources told ESPN.... 'You can't have it both ways,' one former employee told ESPN. 'You can't be over here in February promoting Black History Month and be over in China, where they're in reeducation camps, and all the people that you're partnering with are hitting kids."

But unfortunately, Blackburn says, it all comes down to greed. After this week's deal with CCTV, they're suddenly saying "these warm, cozy things about the Chinese Communist Party. These are people who are not our friends. They do not wish us well. The NBA is listening to the sound of money talking. They are not thinking about the well-being of the Chinese people or the human rights violations that are being carried out against the Hong Kong freedom fighters or the Tibetans or the Taiwanese or the genocide that's being committed against the Uyghurs... [who are] faced with having their population just completely annihilated."

If they can make $3 billion more dollars, they don't care who's being hurt. That's why they need to know, Marsha warned: "the U.S. Senate is watching."