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NBA Commissioner: China Has ‘A Different View,’ We Should ‘Find Mutual Respect’
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - FEBRUARY 15: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks to the media during a press conference at the United Center on February 15, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver expressed hope that his league and the Chinese Communist Part (CCP) “can find mutual respect for each other” despite Beijing’s “different” views.

Silver appeared to downplay China’s numerous and ongoing human rights violations committed by its aggressive, authoritarian government in an interview with Time Magazine released on Monday. Time interviewed Silver as part of its Time 100 Talks series with some of the most influential people in U.S. politics and culture.

Asked if the NBA’s relationship with Beijing has improved since a team manager offended the CCP earlier this year, Silver responded, “I feel it has.” He noted that the state-owned distribution platform Tencent broadcasts NBA games across China. The league is dependent on the Chinese government to maintain agreements generating at least $500 million annually for the league, and likely much more.

“You know, we’ve continued a dialogue with the Chinese, with our business partners there, [and] in certain cases, with certain government officials. And, you know, we’re just going to keep at it,” Silver said.

“We’ve had a long history in China. and certainly, this is a bump in the road in our relations. Obviously, I think we all understand each other,” Silver continued. “You know, as I’ve said before, we come to China with a certain set of core American values and principles. I understand also they have a different form of government, and they have a different view how things have been done, how things should be done. Hopefully, we can find mutual respect for each other.”

Silver’s interview aired hours after China enacted expansive legislation purportedly outlawing acts of terrorism and sedition in Hong Kong. On Wednesday, Chinese authorities used the law to justify cracking down on thousands of protesters. Police arrested several demonstrators carrying signs that called for “Hong Kong Independence.”

The day before Silver’s interview aired, a report on China revealed that the authoritarian state is systemically oppressing thousands of minority women in its Xinjiang province, forcing them to abort unborn children and injecting them with unknown chemicals that can leave women infertile. One expert described the Chinese government’s operation as a “creeping genocide” meant to stamp out minority cultures and subsume them into China’s dominant Han population.

Silver and the NBA are showing off the league’s values by painting “Black Lives Matter” on the sidelines of courts being used to restart the 2020 season. NBA players will also be allowed to place social justice messages on their uniforms. The symbolism is to show the league’s commitment to furthering social justice and solving racial inequality.

The NBA capitulated to China last year after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted out a statement of solidarity with protests happening in Hong Kong at the time against Chinese attempts to establish control over the region. The tweet prompted backlash from Chinese authorities against the league, which Silver responded to by whitewashing China’s human rights record and distancing himself and the league from Morey’s statement and the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

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