Sen. Ben Sasse took aim at the NBA and American businesses for surrendering to “Chinese techno-authoritarianism,” saying they had allowed China to use them as tools for the Communist regime.
“The NBA has prided itself on free expression. Its players and owners have a well-earned reputation for speaking out on social justice in the United States,” the Nebraska Republican said Sunday in an op-ed for the Washington Post. “Sadly, it seems woke capitalism stops at the water’s edge. And this goes way beyond basketball; it is part of Beijing’s strategy of corporate encirclement straight out of Sun Tzu.”
Sasse, 47, also slammed Apple for capitulating to Beijing by removing an app from its store that Hong Kong freedom protesters used. They also criticized ESPN for using “a propaganda map” that shows U.S.-patrolled South China Sea as being part of China.
“Clothing manufacturers, hotels and airlines have been forced to adopt the Chinese Communist Party’s official talking points about its supposed ownership of Tibet and Taiwan,” he added.
The senator has been critical of the NBA since its initial apology to the Chinese Communist Party for Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeting support for Hong Kong freedom protests.
“Basketball fans and the American people more broadly should have absolutely no doubt about what is happening here: The NBA wants money, and the Communist Party of China is asking them to deny the most basic of human rights. In response, the NBA issued a statement saying money is the most important thing,” he said last week.
The NBA has taken heat from both Republicans and Democrats over its response to pressure from the Chinese government to quell criticism of its handling of the crisis in Hong Kong.
NBA officials shut down a journalist at a press conference who tried asking a question about China and free speech. After apologizing for the incident, the NBA announced days later they would be ending all media access in China until it finished its trip in the country.
Two NBA fans were also thrown out of a Philadelphia 76ers game after they brought signs supporting the Hong Kong freedom protests.
China has said through state-controlled media that there is “little room for reconciliation” on the issue of free speech.
“We’re not going down without a fight,” Sasse said. “We ought to have the courage of our convictions and confidence in our own ingenuity. After all, that’s what America is all about. Either that, or learn Mandarin.”