Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), is questioning the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) controversial new reported deal with Chinese Communist Party-controlled Chinese state television (CCTV). Blackburn is the latest official to raise formal concerns about the league’s relationship with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
In a two-page letter sent to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on Thursday, March 4, Blackburn questioned why the league would enter into an agreement with a television company that is at the mercy of the CCP, at the same time that investigations are underway into the myriad of allegations of systematic human rights violations.
The CCP will censor CCTV broadcasts deemed a threat to the CCP, the senator wrote, suggesting that the NBA’s new CCTV deal is a self-serving maneuver that comes amid reports that the country silenced doctors and lied about the risk of CCP Virus transmission, in addition to the persecution of minorities across the country, followed by imprisonment, forced labor, torture, forced organ harvesting, and death.
“While investigations into the origin of COVID-19 continue in Wuhan, the NBA seems solely focused on mending its relationship with CCTV even though it’s clear Communist China will distort, censor, or terminate any CCTV broadcast that is seen as a threat to the Chinese Communist Party [CCP],” the letter reads.
In addition, from her Twitter account Blackburn announced, “The NBA will play ball with Communist China because it doesn’t want to lose out on a TV deal worth hundreds of millions of dollars, even as thousands of Uyghurs sit in concentration camps.”
The NBA will play ball with Communist China because it doesn’t want to lose out on a TV deal worth hundreds of millions of dollars, even as thousands of Uyghurs sit in concentration camps. pic.twitter.com/wvUE4pIsb6
— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) March 6, 2021
The NBA drew the ire of the CCP in late 2019 after then-Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted in support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. Chinese companies cut ties with the league and state broadcaster CCTV stopped airing games.
Morey’s tweet, since deleted, read simply, “Fight for freedom. Support Hong Kong.” However the fallout was unconscionable and marked a break in the relationship between the NBA and the CCP.
But Chinese media recently reported that CCTV will resume regular NBA broadcasts starting with the All-Star Game on March 7.
Last October, CCTV temporarily resumed its broadcast of the last two NBA Finals games as a result of “goodwill” expressed by the NBA for some time, a CCTV spokesman said at the time. “The NBA has made active efforts to support the Chinese people in their fight against COVID-19,” the spokesman told Reuters.
“It is safe to assume that ‘goodwill’ included the $1 million in medical supplies the NBA sent to the CCP,” Blackburn said in the letter. “China dominates PPE production worldwide, so it is deeply troubling that the NBA would send this aid, especially after witnessing the lack of transparency shown by the CCP throughout the entire pandemic and their continued grave human rights violations.”
Blackburn asked Silver to provide details on the business deal made with CCTV by March 30, including details on whether the agreement prohibits the NBA from speaking out on issues deemed unacceptable to the CCP such as Tibet, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Xinjiang.