Disney CEO Bob Iger declined to give an opinion when asked about the ongoing pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong on Tuesday, Oct. 22.
Appearing at Wall Street Journal’s Tech Live conference, he explained, “To take a position that could harm our company in some form would be a big mistake.”
He went on to comment that some caution was needed in this case because the situation was complicated and cited what happened last week as an example.
Iger said that in the past he had spoken out about some issues that he deemed “serving the interest of the company” such as the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris climate accord out of concern that “people would not go to theme parks if they don’t breath the air.”
But this time, he feared that any comment would do harm to his company given its robust business in China with two giant theme parks in Shanghai and Hong Kong.
China is also the world’s second-largest movie market and Disney movies need the Chinese regime’s approval to be shown to the public.
Another U.S. business has expressed various views when it comes to this subject.
While general manager of the Houston Rockets, Daryl Morey, showed his support for the Hong Kong protesters in an Oct. 4 tweet, Rockets star James Harden bowed to China saying, “We love China. We love playing there. I know for both of us individually we go there once or twice a year. They show us the most support and love. So we appreciate them as a fan base, and we love everything they’re about, and we appreciate the support that they give us individually and as an organization.”
By contrast, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced his support of free speech, defending Morey’s right to speak freely, despite the fact that state-run China Central Television (CCTV) expressed their discontent and blacklisted the games in China.
Yet, another NBA star, LeBron James fired at Morey for his favorable view toward democracy, saying, “I don’t want to get into a … feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand and he spoke.”
“So many people could have been harmed, not only financially, but physically, emotionally, spiritually, so, just be careful what we tweet, what we say, what we do. Even though yes, we do have freedom of speech, there can be a lot of negative that comes from that,” he added.
Former Universal Picture co-chairman Brian Mulligan opined that James’s currying favor with China might stem from his fear that his upcoming film “Space Jam 2,” in which he stars, can not air in China, reported New York Post.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) also took to Twitter to criticize James’s statement:
— Senator Ben Sasse (@SenSasse) October 15, 2019