4. Why are the stakes “particularly high for the N.B.A. in China,” according to the author? In what ways does the N.B.A. do business in China?
5. How have other American businesses found themselves “forced to choose sides on geopolitical issues” and “ultimately bow to China’s economic might”? Give at least one example from the article. How might this example suggest an outcome for the current controversy?
Is it wrong for the N.B.A. and other American businesses to play by China’s rules in exchange for China’s money?
Before you decide, consider this:
The long-running Comedy Central cartoon “South Park” also ran into trouble and was “erased from major platforms in China after an episode last week taunted Chinese censors and the far-reaching effect they often have on American entertainment.” But the response by the show’s creators was very different than that of the N.B.A., Daniel Victor writes:
Whereas the N.B.A. has struggled to respond to the geopolitical fracas, the creators of “South Park” appeared to relish the fight. The show’s creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, put out a fake apology on Monday, poking fun at the N.B.A. while insulting Xi Jinping, China’s president.
“Like the N.B.A., we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts,” the tongue-in-cheek statement read. “We too love money more than freedom and democracy. Xi doesn’t look just like Winnie the Pooh at all.
In “When It Comes to China, Silence Is Golden,” The New York Times Editorial Board argues:
The face of the Rockets, the point guard James Harden, issued a public apology on Monday.
“We apologize,” he said.
For what, exactly, remained unclear.
Do the N.B.A.’s owners appreciate that their wealth is a product of the freedoms they enjoy in this country? Does Mr. Harden, the owner of a famous beard, know that Muslims in Xinjiang are not allowed to grow beards like his?
The N.B.A. has an undoubted right to set rules for its work force, but it cannot simultaneously claim to champion free expression — the value of which consists entirely in the right to say what others don’t want to hear.
American executives and policymakers initially reconciled themselves to following China’s rules by arguing that China’s turn toward capitalism, and its exposure to the United States, would gradually lead toward democracy and a greater respect for human rights. They argued, in effect, that silence was the most productive form of criticism.
It should now be clear that silence is merely complicity, no more or less.
It is the moral price the N.B.A. and other businesses are paying for making money in China.
What do you think? If you were advising the Houston Rockets or the N.B.A., what would you recommend?