After two years of bad relations between the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the Chinese communist regime, it seems that once again, the NBA has managed to penetrate the highly valued Chinese market. But as reflected in the official propaganda media of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), nothing will be free. They are already pushing for the NBA to help promote the regime’s influence in the United States.
On Sunday, the Chinese state-run Global Times touted the U.S. NBA’s participation in the first China International Consumer Products Expo, scheduled for May 7-10 in the city of Haikou.
The Chinese newspaper suggested that the NBA should “undertake a certain amount of influence within the United States” on behalf of Beijing to repay its hosts for their generosity, the paper read.
In 2019, the NBA suffered what its CEO described as “substantial” losses after an online comment by a Houston Rockets team executive sparked a backlash in China.
After Houston Rockets manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, state broadcaster CCTV and Tencent Holdings, which broadcasts NBA games in China, announced they would stop airing Rockets games.
The decision of the Chinese authorities implied multi-million dollar losses for the NBA, which since then has tried several ways to make excuses to the regime to please it, demonstrating on several occasions that the NBA prioritizes by far its economic gains over the social responsibility it is expected to have for its reach to so many people and in all parts of the world.
In an attempt to appease the regime, the NBA announced the appointment of a Chinese national as CEO of its China business in May 2020 but that was not enough either, as the official Global Times media reported last year.
“If it wants to win its way back into the mainland Chinese market, [the NBA] must properly handle Houston Rockets CEO Daryl Morey, who tweeted in support of Hong Kong rioters last year,” the communist media outlet noted.
Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner, expressed high expectations for better relations between the league and the regime’s authorities.
“My personal feeling is that when I look at the mission of the NBA, which is to improve people’s lives through basketball, I think continuing to operate in China is completely consistent with our mission,” Silver said in an interview with NBC as if they had not already amply demonstrated their disregard for society, human rights, and democratic values by condemning Daryl Morey’s remarks when he was encouraged to support democracy advocates in Hong Kong.
CCTV, China’s state broadcaster, has not yet resumed broadcasting NBA games. Still, rumors suggest that this could happen soon, and the Global Times suggested that CCTV and the NBA have already signed a broadcasting contract. However, the timetable for the official resumption of broadcasts has not yet been decided.
The details of the arrangements are not yet known, but what is clear is that the pressure from the regime for the NBA to do its job of influencing the U.S. has already begun.