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Nike, the NBA and star player LeBron James have remained silent on China’s growing hostility towards the LGBTQ community, most recently when one of the country’s most prestigious universities cracked down on students displaying LGBTQ flags.
Fox News reached out to Nike, the NBA and Upland Workshop — a consultancy founded and run by James’ spokesman and adviser Adam Mendelsohn — for comment on the crackdown, but did not receive a response.
The silence comes after two students from China’s Tsinghua University were reprimanded for handing out LGBTQ rainbow flags, according to a Bloomberg report. Students have received official warnings and been banned from receiving scholarships and awards for six months, with the school warning that further violations could lead to more serious penalties for students, such as loss of eligibility for civil service and employment in public enterprises.
News of the students’ punishment went viral on Chinese social media, but the posts were quickly deleted on China’s tightly controlled internet. The incident was just the latest in China’s apparent crackdown on the gay community in the country, with Chinese President Xi Jinping pushing for a more conservative approach to gender and sexual identity.
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“This incident is the latest example of university authorities increasingly limiting the space for LGBT advocacy and expression – even when it’s soft and low-key,” Darius Longarino, senior fellow at the Paul Tsai China Center at Yale Law School.
James and the NBA have spoken out on a host of political and social issues in recent years, but have mostly turned a blind eye to Communist China’s behavior on gender, sexual identity and human rights abuses. ‘man. Critics have widely criticized the NBA and Nike in recent years for their ties to China, with the country representing a major new market for professional basketball league and a source of cheap labor for the soccer giant. shoe.
Former Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, who currently works as the Philadelphia 76ers’ president of basketball operations, sparked controversy in 2019 when he took to Twitter to defend protesters in Hong Kong, encouraging supporters to “fight for freedom” and “stand together”. Hong Kong” during the Chinese crackdown in the Independent Administrative Region.
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The tweet, which was quickly deleted, created a backlash in China and cost the NBA valuable sponsorship dollars, even prompting a reprimand from James at the time.
“We all talk about this freedom of speech, yes we all have freedom of speech. But sometimes there are negative ramifications that can happen when you don’t think about others and only think about yourself,” James said at the time. “I don’t want to get into a squabble over words or phrases with … with Daryl Morey. But I believe he was uninformed of the current situation and he spoke.”