Smartphone maker Vivo, broadcaster CCTV, and internet giant Tencent said today they are suspending all cooperation with the National Basketball Association, becoming the latest Chinese firms to cut ties with the league
after a tweet from a Houston Rockets executive supporting Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters offended many in the world’s most populous nation. From a report: Vivo, which is a key sponsor for the upcoming exhibition games to be played in Shanghai and Shenzhen this week, said in a statement on Chinese social networking platform Weibo, that it was “dissatisfied” with Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey’s views on Hong Kong. In a tweet over the weekend, Morey voiced his support for protesters in Hong Kong. He said, “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.” Even as he quickly moved to delete the tweet and the NBA attempted to smoothen the dialogue, Morey’s views had offended many in China, which maintains a low tolerance for criticism of its political system. In a statement, the NBA said it was “regrettable” that Morey’s views had “deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China.” This stance from the NBA, which has grown accustomed to seeing its star players speak freely and criticize anyone they wish including the U.S. president Donald Trump, in turn, offended many.
Earlier today, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said it was also suspending broadcasts of the league’s games to be played in China. China remains a key strategic nation for the NBA. According to official figures, more than 600 million viewers in China watched the NBA content during the 2017-18 season. The league’s five-year partnership with Chinese tech giant Tencent for digital streaming rights of matches is reported to be worth $1.5 billion. In a statement issued today, Tencent Sports said it was “temporarily suspending” the pre-season broadcast arrangements.