NBA’s Enes Kanter Takes on Chinese Tyranny

“My message to the Chinese government is free Tibet. Tibet belongs to Tibetans, I am here to add my voice and speak out against what is happening in Tibet under the Chinese government’s brutal rule. Shame on the Chinese government. The Chinese dictatorship is erasing Tibetan identity and culture” and “Under the Chinese government’s brutal rule, Tibetan people’s basic rights and freedoms are non-existent.”

That may sound like something from a speech to the UN or a statement from Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International. It was actually Enes Kanter, a center for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association, in a video posted on social media. Kanter, who hails from Turkey, also called Xi Jinping a “brutal dictator” and wore “FREE TIBET” on his sneakers. For Kanter, who has also denounced the Turkish regime of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, it was a bold move.

Kanter’s employer, the NBA, has access to the Chinese market, which means increased revenues for the league but also a measure of control by China. Two years ago, China blocked the streaming of games after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted “fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.” In similar style, China blocked Celtics games after Kanter took a stand.

“From now on, our page will no longer report any information about the Boston Celtics, and our Weibo will stop updating!” the pro-China Weibo Express posted. “For any behavior that undermines harmony of the nations and the dignity of the motherland, we resolutely resist!” The Celtics center also prompted a response from China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin, who told reporters, “We will never accept those attacks to discredit Tibet’s development and progress.”

China invaded Tibet in the 1950s and has occupied the central Asian region ever since. Despite the occupation, and the imposition of Marxist-Leninist dictatorship, the United States supported World Trade Organization membership and granted China trade privileges. The cost of those moves is becoming evident.

As a league, the NBA has been silent China’s human rights abuses. As we noted, last year NBA players wore jerseys emblazoned, “Group Economics,” a clumsy euphemism for a command economy, a key feature of socialism. In a command economy a political elite makes the strategic economic decisions and the people get only what the government wants them to have. That’s the way it works in China, where freedom of speech does not exist.

At this writing, the White House has yet to respond to Enes Kanter’s denunciation of China’s Communist dictatorship. During the 2020 campaign, Joe Biden said the Chinese were “not bad folks” and not even competition for the United States.

Back on February 11, Biden told the Burmese military to “relinquish power” and “demonstrate respect for the will of the people.” In his entire political career, it’s hard to find any statement where Joe Biden urges the Chinese Communist Party to relinquish power and demonstrate respect for the will of the people.

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at American Greatness.
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