Thursday, October 10, 2019

China and the NBA

How would you believe a few words, "Stand for Hong Kong" could cause such a response?  There was the Chinese end of it and then there was the NBA response.  No question that money rules the world.

The Chinese public never knew of the brief Twitter as it was blocked.  Also they do not get an honest explanation for the Hong Kong riots.  When you are autocratic and with enough leverage you can force your will on anyone who wants to do business with you.

The morals of the story are obvious in that powerful bullies don't worry about morals.  Plenty of others have commented on the morals.  What can be done?

As long as we worship money (and it is pretty important to me) we are obligated to do things we would not otherwise do--including much of work or keeping your mouth shut.  Looking around the world many established companies (and those hoping to gain traction) see China with its huge population and growing middle class as the best available opportunity.

China has its own sensitivities.  They feel they are overcoming humiliation and resent any reminder vestiges.  Having colonials impose their will on the Chinese people who felt they had a glorious history can make you a bit touchy.  There are different languages, different cuisines, but they are united under an autocratic government. We hear of conflicts involving Tibet (the Dalai Lama is my hero), Taiwan and the Uighurs.  To "control" the population the authorities have imposed censorship not only within their nation but to outsiders hoping to make inroads.

On one side of the bargaining table are greedy entrepreneurs salivating over the huge numbers of potential customers.  On the other side is someone wanting to please their customers (their citizens wanting a higher standard of living).  It may seem uneven between our side and the Chinese, but we do have things they want--our markets, our technology and ideas, our resources and some of the razzle dazzle we take for granted.  On top of that there is a natural human craving for more freedom.

Can the tail wag the dog?  We do have leverage.  The Chinese like lots of western things including the NBA.  When Yao Ming  made it to the NBA that generated a lot of national pride as well as interest in basketball.  A few other Chinese have played lesser roles.  A few years back, Jeremy Lin (of Taiwanese heritage) created "Linsanity" where he won a number of games with the last shot.  Many Chinese people would be upset if they couldn't get their NBA "fix."  It is doubtful that Chinese would give up Olympic aspirations for basketball which ensures interest will continue.  Everyone wants to see the best and aspires to be a part of it.

Adam Silver did salvage a little dignity by declaring individuals have the right to express themselves.  On other issues he has been very commendable and one can hope he will get back to form.

Citizens of the world are better off when we share culture.  Westerners love cheap Asian goods and exotic culture.  It is a two way street which most of us enjoy when we are able to expand our interests.  The Chinese are no different.  They are just fascinated by different cultures as we are.  All efforts to boost cultural exchanges are to be encouraged.

What we have that Chinese people want as much as anyone is relative freedom.  We can pretty well say whatever we want, listen to whatever we want, seek pleasure in whatever direction.  They don't fully know this, but we can try to expand their awareness.  When they cut off coverage of the Houston Rockets (and NBA champion Toronto Raptors) and LeBron James there are bound to be disappointed people, including people with some measure of power.  While we are being seduced by potential riches they are being seduced by western culture.

Technology is being used to create another iron curtain or maybe one should say cyber curtain.  China can try to isolate itself, but that will create resentment among the people.   Hong Kong is unique, but they are perhaps on the front lines of freedom.  If they can hold out it will be harder and harder for authorities to keep the truth from the rest of China. 

Perhaps this issue got my attention as I love basketball and have been involved for over 60 years.

The Chinese are bringing more of the culture to the rest of the world with movies.

The photo is from a Chinese movie I thought was well worth watching with some insight into one child policy.

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