As more American companies start doing business in China, there’s an expectation that the country will protect its US employees’ rights. Not their rights while they are in China, mind you, but their rights at home in the United States. It’s becoming clear, however, that China is posing a huge threat to one of the fundamental rights that the citizens of the USA enjoy: freedom of expression.
The NBA and Chinese Aggression
In late 2019, General Manager of the Houston Rockets, Daryl Morey, tweeted out his support for the protesters in Hong Kong. Morey was in Japan when he tweeted a photo with the words “Fight for Freedom, Stand with Hong Kong” on it. No big deal, it was an image on a website that’s banned in mainland China.
The Chinese government didn’t see eye-to-eye.
Immediately, the authorities in China demanded the NBA fire Morey. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver stood behind Morey’s right to free speech and refused to condemn him. The owner of the Rockets Tilman Fertitta, on the other hand, rebuked the General Manager.
China canceled all of the NBA broadcasts and there was no doubt they were punishing them for Morey’s tweet.
That’s not the only instance of China attempting to stomp on the First Amendment.
The Far-Reaching Implications of China’s Aversion to Free Speech
It’s sometimes easy to forget the Chinese government is a totalitarian government that does not tolerate dissent. Although they may have a Constitution that gives its citizens freedom of speech, that does not mean they actually have that freedom. And, hey, it would be nice if their citizens did have that absolute right, but it’s not our business.
What IS our business is the Chinese government’s attempt to punish an American citizen’s right to free speech while they are not in China.
What’s scary is that it’s already happening: businesses are selling out to China.
In 2018, China told American Airlines to remove references to Taiwan from their websites. Four of the airlines folded and did as they were told. In another incident, Marriott hotels fired a social media manager in Nebraska for liking a tweet by a group that supports Tibetan independence.
The authoritarian country is desperately and aggressively cracking down on speech that they don’t like and far too many American businesses are giving in to their demands.
We must not allow corporations to put money before fundamental American principles. China is a threat to our citizenry and the only way to stop the erosion of our rights is to hold firm as the NBA did. If corporations continue to throw away those rights, we shudder to think of what this country will look like in two decades.
Copyright 2019, TargetLiberty.org