The National Basketball Association (NBA) has found itself in hot water with Republican lawmakers over its relationship with China and its alleged broadcasting of propaganda during a game between the Washington Wizards and the Orlando Magic back in January. During a break in the action, a video featuring China’s new foreign minister, Qin Gang, was aired, in which he wished the D.C. family a happy Chinese New Year.

Spectator reporter Matthew Foldi described it as China flexing its “soft power” by gently easing propagandist Chinese messaging, wrapped up in cheerful New Year’s packaging. Foldi noted that multiple GOP lawmakers have penned a formal letter to the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver expressing “grave concerns” about the situation.

The letter questions the NBA’s coziness with the Chinese Communist Party and asks whether the CCP or any instrument of the CCP paid the NBA to broadcast propaganda during NBA games. The lawmakers also want to know whether the NBA willingly broadcast CCP propaganda, whether it was a favor conducted by the NBA, and whether there was a threat of retribution if the NBA declined. The letter also asks how the NBA intends to denounce the serious human rights abuses of religious and ethnic groups in China and support players who speak out against the CCP.

The NBA’s relationship with China has been a controversial issue for some time, with many people accusing the league of prioritizing money over principles. China is a huge market for the NBA, and the league has been criticized for kowtowing to the CCP in order to protect its financial interests.

Last year, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver defended the league’s decision to allow players to wear jerseys with social justice slogans, saying that it was a way for the league to promote its values. However, when Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted in support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, the NBA was quick to distance itself from him and issued an apology to China. Morey was forced to delete his tweet, and the NBA faced a backlash from fans and politicians in the United States.

The airing of Qin Gang’s video during the Wizards-Magic game is just the latest example of the NBA’s apparent willingness to cozy up to the Chinese government. The fact that the video featured a Chinese official who denied the ongoing persecution of the Uyghur Muslims in western China is particularly concerning.

Republican lawmakers are right to question the NBA’s actions and demand answers. It’s important that the league is held accountable for its actions and that it doesn’t allow itself to become a pawn of the CCP.

Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that the NBA will provide satisfactory answers to the questions posed by the GOP lawmakers. The league has shown time and again that it’s more concerned with protecting its bottom line than promoting human rights and democratic values.

The fact that the NBA has been willing to look the other way while the CCP has engaged in human rights abuses is deeply troubling. It’s time for the league to take a stand and demonstrate that it values human rights more than money. If it fails to do so, it will continue to face criticism from lawmakers, fans, and others who are concerned about the league’s relationship with China.

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Sources: TheGatewayPundit, The Spectator, NPR, The Western Journal

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