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  • Writer's pictureXiaodong Fang

A lesson from China's reaction to NBA: diversity of U.S. sources to influence China

In response to Houston Rockets general manager (GM) Daryl Morey's "inappropriate Hong Kong-related remarks" (Morey sent a tweet voicing support for Hong Kong's pro-democracy protesters over the weekend), China's behemoth national broadcaster CCTV announced it would no longer air the two NBA preseason games set to take place in China this week.

Photo from Unsplash

Though this is a shameful reaction of the Chinese government to retaliate a private U.S. citizen's freedom of speech, one thing we learned from this event is that the voice of an NBA GM mattered to China. Now anyone, whether a politician or a citizen, can more or less shape China’s behaviors. This could be a breakthrough for more U.S. sources to affect China on freedom and democracy.


Entertainment & politics are closely intertwined. The strategy of using sports to engage politics and diplomacy are not news between the U.S. and China. In the 1970s, the ‘PingPong’ diplomacy broke the ice of the U.S.-China relationships, which later led to the formalization of the two countries' diplomacy. Today, the Chinese state media and its government are so nervous and overreacting on the comment on Hong Kong by the GM of #Rockets.


Based on the reactions of China in this event, we could assume that the similar comments of other influential U.S. figures in the areas of sport and entertainment will exert influence on the Chinese audience and then affect the behaviors of the Chinese government. Thus, we call on more U.S. sources, whether you are a politician, a pop star, an athlete, a business leader, etc, to use your influence to push China towards freedom and democracy.


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