Is the NBA Doomed in China?

Is the NBA Doomed in China?

Welcome to Foreign Policy’s China Brief. The highlights this week: A basketball tweet becomes a political firestorm in China, the United States sanctions Chinese firms over abuses in Xinjiang, and U.S.-China trade talks start in Washington.

If you would like to receive China Brief in your inbox every Wednesday, please sign up here.

China Won’t Play Ball Over Hong Kong Support

Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey posted an image of support for the Hong Kong protests on Twitter last Friday, and by Sunday his job was in jeopardy. On Tuesday, all NBA games were pulled from Chinese television, and Houston Rockets products were removed from online stores. The future of the sports league—the most popular in China—seems to be in serious doubt in the country.

Meanwhile, the NBA itself has gone through a cycle of apology for Morey’s tweet, joining a number of Western firms surrendering to Chinese censorship demands—and prompting negative coverage in the United States. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issued a new statement on Tuesday to dampen American anger, but he has only succeeded in stoking more in China.

How did this start? The anger over Morey’s tweet seems to have started with a popular Weibo account and been amplified by state media. These reactions and political discourse aren’t driven directly from the top: State media instead respond to onlin ..