The NBA is repeatedly among those that readily bow to Beijing. And U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz wants it to stop.

Florida Republican Rips NBA Commissioner, Refusing To Buck China On Human Rights Abuses 

In early March The New York Times reported that China asked the Russian dictator to delay the invasion of Ukraine until after the Winter Olympics.

China subsequently denied the report. “The New York Times report is completely fake news. These kinds of diversionary, blame-shifting remarks are thoroughly despicable,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said a day after the Times report.

If the Times was correct, however, it wouldn’t just be Putin who shows remarkable deference to Chinese President Xi Jinping – who to date has refused to condemn the assault on Ukraine.

The NBA is repeatedly among those that readily bow to Beijing. And U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz wants it to stop.

The Florida Republican has rallied several of his Sunshine State colleagues in denouncing the NBA for refusing to stand up for those oppressed by the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

Last week, Waltz issued a letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver urging him to change that, and to explain to Congress his plan for ensuring the league rejects Beijing’s totalitarian instincts.

“Over the years, the NBA has continued to overlook the egregious human rights abuses committed by the CCP, allowing the CCP politics to play a significant role in the NBA’s business decisions,” the letter said.

As one example, the lawmakers cited newly minted American Enes Kanter Freedom, an NBA player who spoke out about human rights abuses in Turkey and then turned to China. Once Freedom took on China, he was soon out of a job.

“Once his criticisms turned toward the Chinese Communist Party late last year, free speech was no longer a right that the NBA valued or protected,” the letter maintained.

The NBA is “among the worst” of U.S. companies that refuse to denounce China for “blatant human rights abuses,” including those targeting the Muslim Uyghur minority.

Instead, the image the NBA portrays, the letter continued, is shown by Chamath Palihapitiya, partial owner of the Golden State Warriors. Not long ago, Palihapitiya said, “Nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs, okay… I’m just telling you a very hard, ugly truth. Of all the things I care about, yes, it’s below my line.”

“This is yet another glaring example of the NBA community’s disregard for the Uyghur people and kowtowing to the CCP. Both Palihapitiya’s reprehensible comments, and the NBA’s lack of a forceful response, was appalling,” the letter added.

“It is clear that the NBA cherry picks which social and political demonstrations they will support. … Rather than standing up to the CCP for its continued human rights abuses and profiting off forced labor, the NBA continues to cower to the CCP, allowing the political preferences of a malevolent regime to intervene in NBA business decisions and silence its employees and players,” the lawmakers argued.

The letter then called on Silver to explain “how the NBA plans to stand up to the CCP for its ongoing human rights abuses, including genocide, and educate players, employees, and franchises of the CCP’s oppression.”

“We also ask you to inform us on how you intend to protect the rights of courageous players who choose to speak out against the CCP in the future, despite your failure to do so in the case of Enes Kanter Freedom.”

The letter’s signers included Florida GOP U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, as well as Reps. Neal Dunn of Panama City, Scott Franklin of Lakeland, and Mario Diaz-Balart of Miami. Others outside of Florida who endorsed the letter included Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa and Reps. Vicky Hartzler of Missouri, Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, and Young Kim of California.

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