News & Politics

China Scrubs NBA's Boston Celtics From Broadcasts After Anti-Xi Comments by Player

AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

People in China will no longer be able to see any games or mention of the NBA’s Boston Celtics after center Enes Kanter posted a video on Facebook where he expressed pro-Tibetan independence sentiments and heavily criticized Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Needless to say, the Chinese Communists were miffed by some lowly American reminding them of their inhuman treatment of Tibetans. It just isn’t done.

“My message to the Chinese government is: free Tibet. Tibet belongs to Tibetans. I am here to add my voice and speak out against what is happening in Tibet under the Chinese government’s brutal rule,” he said.

He added: “I say, ‘Shame on the Chinese government.’ The Chinese dictatorship is erasing Tibetan identity and culture.”

The Chinese social media platform Weibo said that they would no longer post any information about the team. “Any behavior that undermines the harmony of the nation and the dignity of the motherland, we resolutely resist!” stated Weibo’s administrator.

In other words, “don’t rock the boat, comrades.”

Washington Post:

Asked about Kanter’s remarks at a news conference on Thursday, China Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin called him “clout-chasing, trying to get attention with Tibet-related issues.”

“Tibet is part of China,” Wang said. “We welcome unbiased friends upholding objectivity across the world to Tibet. In the meanwhile, we never accept the attacks and smears on Tibet’s development.”

Kanter has also been an outspoken opponent of the Erdogan regime in Turkey. In 2017, he was forced to flee Indonesia in the dead of night after learning that Turkish agents were on their way to his hotel room to kidnap him and take him back to Turkey.

Most damaging to his team, the Boston Celtics, is that the Chinese streaming service Tencent Sports said they would no longer carry Celtics games because of Kanter’s remarks. But the NBA has a history of kowtowing to the Chinese and obliging them in their efforts to censor all criticism.

Kanter had planned to play Wednesday’s game wearing a pair of sneakers emblazoned with the words “Free Tibet” and an image of a man self-immolating, a desperate form of protest to which Tibetans have sometimes resorted, said Badiucao, a prominent overseas Chinese political cartoonist who painted the designs on the shoes. Kanter was not given the chance: Coaches did not send him onto the court on Wednesday.

Badiucao said Kanter had asked for his help with his Tibet project.

“It surprised me, indeed, because of the potential risks that Enes is taking for this project,” said Badiucao, who uses a pen name to protect his identity. “To act and support people not from your country, it’s a profound and rare character.”

In 2019, Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey voiced support for Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters and was promptly punished when Chinese TV banned the Rockets. Morey apologized, as did the NBA, but the incident rankles the Chinese government to this day.

China has been slowly strangling Tibetan culture and traditions. The Chinese Communist atheists refuse to accept the deeply held Buddhist beliefs of the Tibetan people and are also slowly forcing them to use standard spoken and written Chinese. They say they have “liberated Tibetans from so-called ‘oppressive theocracy'” and restored Chinese rule over the region.

Human rights groups have been calling for a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympics because of the brutal treatment of the Uighurs and the occupation of Tibet. But if the Olympics went on uninterrupted in 1936 when Nazis were killing Jews, no reason to spoil a good party by worrying about small matters like slavery and eliminating an entire culture.