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Mon Oct 14, 2019, 07:34 AM

China is waging war with U.S. businesses. And it's winning.

If you want to understand what’s happening in the National Basketball Association, turn off SportsCenter and pick up “The Art of War.” More than 2,000 years ago, the Chinese general Sun Tzu wrote that “the skillful strategist defeats the enemy without doing battle, captures the city without laying siege, overthrows the enemy state without protracted war.” That’s how the NBA lost its recent battle with China, and it’s how China has been beating Americans the past few years.

Let’s back up.

On Oct. 4, Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets, tweeted support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. Of course, almost no one in China saw this tweet given that the country’s ban on Twitter keeps Chinese citizens in dark. Nevertheless, this small, symbolic gesture of solidarity with human rights-seekers landed the NBA in the middle of the war between Chinese techno-authoritarianism and U.S. democracy.

The Chinese Communist Party mobilized immediately. The Chinese Basketball Association severed ties with the Houston Rockets, Chinese corporations canceled lucrative deals, and CCTV (Beijing’s state-run media company) and Tencent (the tech giant that’s in bed with Beijing) declared that they’d be blacklisting Rockets games. Millions of viewers and billions of dollars were on the line.

The NBA quickly surrendered. The league pushed Morey to apologize, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver followed suit. Even worse, Joe Tsai, the owner of the Brooklyn Nets and co-founder of the quasi-state enterprise Alibaba, parroted Beijing’s Orwellian spin that Hong Kong protesters are less pro-democracy than they are a “separatist movement.”


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