The NBA prides itself on being the most “woke” professional sports league in the U.S. yet decided to support a foreign authoritarian state in China last week. Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, explained his support for anti-authoritarian protesters in Hong Kong by tweeting, “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.” China reacted as they often do to criticism: by banning it. Accordingly, the NBA was on their knees begging for mercy from the authoritarian country. This included Daryl Morey being coerced into apologizing for “Not being educated on the situation,” as the Los Angeles Lakers small guard LeBron James put it.
According to the Golden State Warriors head coach, Steve Kerr, China’s human rights abuses are comparable to an AR-15. However, I thought that imprisoning over a million Muslims, having more executions than the rest of the world combined, or losing employment and loan opportunities simply for criticizing the “People’s” Republic of China was worse. I guess I should’ve known better.
Hong Kong is in the fight of their lives now, staring down tyranny. The once-British territory had been a strong liberalized country since the 1980’s yet was handed over to the Chinese in 1997. This, of course, led to disaster as China has slowly rolled back the human rights in Hong Kong. Hongkongers have reacted by protesting in the streets for almost four months. There is a problem that comes with American corporations bending over backwards to taste just a little bit of the gold mine in China. Apple, Disney and now the NBA have given in to this Orwellian government.
On December 3, 1860, Frederick Douglass, a former slave, wanted to give a speech in Boston on how to solve the problem of slavery. Anti-abolitionist protestors showed up and succeed in causing such an uproar that the event had to be canceled. Douglass got a second chance to give this speech, called “A Plea for Freedom of Speech in Boston,” three days later. Douglass found this open dialogue is the only way to successfully combat tyranny, and he was right. This month the NBA tried to silence protesters by kicking out fans for having pro-Hong Kong signs. As liberal arts students, we need to push back against these corporations who would rather stand with tyranny than with the free speech of over 1.5 billion people. Not only is a Chinese citizens freedom of speech oppressed, every move they make is being monitored by the government.
China’s Social Credit system is like something out of a science fiction novel. Imagine your every move being tracked: what you buy, sell, where you go, what you do and say. Choices such as bad driving, smoking in non-smoking zones, buying too many video games and posting fake news online. Now imagine that all of these choices go into your credit score, which determines how loyal or threatening you are to the state. This score will affect your ability to get a train ticket, a mortgage or even employment. If you can imagine this, then you know what life is like for millions of Chinese citizens right now and by next year every Chinese citizen. At Calvin, we believe in rehabilitation for those who are struggling. We don’t believe that people should be shamed or punished beyond recovery.
China is authoritarian, and they aren’t very friendly to religion. Christian Broadcasting Network reported that “Some Christians have lost their jobs, been evicted from their homes, or even jailed for their faith.” The problem is even worse for Muslims. As I stated above, over 1 million Muslims are in Chinese concentration camps. The goal is to “re-educate” those of the Islamic faith away from their religion and force them to focus on the leadership of the Chinese government. This is why as Christians and students of this Christian Reformed univ. we must stand against the companies that carry water for this tyrannical state.
I realize that in the United States we have several problems of our own and that Christians haven’t always done the right thing. We need to realize the magnitude of an all-powerful government in China and the effect it would have on the rest of the world. The bottom line is that corporations who seek to gain from the tyranny of the Chinese government while also claiming to be bastions of liberalism don’t deserve the well-earned respect of Calvin University. As Christ’s agents of renewal, we have an obligation to get the word out about our own American companies and how they are turning a blind eye from authoritarianism.
Unfortunately, as of right now there isn’t much that we can do except get as much information out as possible. From social media to just explaining to family and friends, the more information that gets out the better. You can also contact your local congressperson and inform them of the situation at hand.