Sen. Marsha Blackburn Blasts NBA for Pursuing Chinese TV Deal Amid Covid Investigation

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Mario Tama/Getty Images

U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R, TN) sent a letter asking the National Basketball Association just what its deal with the oppressive Chinese government really means for players and the U.S.A.

In her two-page, March 4 letter, Sen. Blackburn wants the NBA to answer a series of questions over its deal with the communist-controlled Chinese television company (CCTV). In one segment, the Sen. asks if the players’ free speech is being quashed to further Chinese propaganda. Blackburn also wants to know if the NBA is refusing to speak out about Chinese slave labor camps for fear of putting stress on its billion-dollar deal with the Chinese government.

Blackburn also criticized the NBA for gingerly dealing with China and working so hard to “mend” its relationship with CCTV even in the face of China’s outrageous actions over the spread of the coronavirus from Wuhan to the rest of the world.

The Sen. slams the NBA for allowing itself to sit quietly at the mercy of the Chinese government while investigations into China’s actions over the coronavirus continue. But she also blasts the NBA for its selfishness even as China reportedly hoarded protective equipment, silenced doctors, and lied to the world about the virus it is responsible for spreading.

“While investigations into the origin of COVID-19 continue in Wuhan, the NBA seems solely focused on mending its relationship with CCTV,” the Senator’s letter reads.

“It is safe to assume that ‘goodwill’ included the $1 million in medical supplies the NBA sent to the CCP?” Blackburn wrote. “China dominates Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) production worldwide, so it is deeply troubling that the NBA would send this aid, especially after witnessing the lack of transparency shown by the CCP throughout the entire pandemic and their continued grave human rights violations.”

The letter shames China for “reneging on commitments to democracy” made after taking control of Hong Kong. Blackburn points out that China has spent years, now, threatening the lives and freedom of Hong Kong’s democracy protesters and scolds the NBA for refusing to speak up for human rights in the region.

The letter wraps up by asking three questions of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. Blackburn first demands to know the details on the NBA’s new contract with CCTV and what the league has promised to “adhere to” as part of its contractual negotiations, particularly related to the sensitive topics of Hong Kong and the slave labor camps. Blackburn next requests the financial impact of CCTV’s ban on airing NBA games. Finally, she asks if China’s Chief Executive Officer Michael Ma, whose father is a top executive at CCTV, had any role in the deal.

To be more explicit, Blackburn followed the release of her letter with a tweet asking if NBA players are being told to shut up about China’s human rights abuses.

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