Chinese foreign ministry blasts NBA star who called Xi Jinping ‘brutal dictator’ over ‘cultural genocide’ in Tibet (VIDEO)
The NBA's Chinese broadcast partner has erased its Boston Celtics coverage after one of the team's players savaged Xi Jinping over "cultural genocide" in Tibet, with the foreign ministry accusing the star of “clout-chasing”.
In a message addressed to the Chinese president and his "henchmen", Turkish social justice warrior Enes Kanter called on his targets to "free Tibet" and labeled the leader a "brutal dictator".
The 6ft10in center appeared in a t-shirt featuring the Dalai Lama – the foremost leader of Tibetan Buddhism, and a figure Kanter claimed people in China face arrest for publicly admiring – and looked directly into the camera as he delivered his damning appraisal.
“Under the Chinese government’s brutal rule, Tibetan people’s basic rights and freedoms are non-existent,” said Kanter, who plays for what one account said is the sixth-most popular NBA team in the huge Chinese market.
And just like that, tonight’s Celtics game is completely removed from Tencent’s (NBA’s official Chinese broadcast partner) broadcast list, making fans very confused right now. pic.twitter.com/92UTQITEjZ— Wenhao 文灏 (@ThisIsWenhao) October 20, 2021
“They are not allowed to study and learn their language and culture freely. They are not allowed to access information freely.
"The Tibetan people are not even allowed to worship freely. For more than 70 years, Tibetan monks, nuns, intellectuals, writers, poets, community leaders, athletes and many more have been detained, sent to political re-education classes, been subject to torture, lengthy interrogations and even been executed, simply for exercising the freedom that you and I take for granted.
"I say, shame on the Chinese government. The Chinese dictatorship is erasing Tibetan identity and culture."
Influencers in China are calling people not to share what Kanter posted and requesting the Celtics to fire Kanter (not sure how that would work when there is a contract). pic.twitter.com/Oq1myRXcaB— Wenhao 文灏 (@ThisIsWenhao) October 20, 2021
A Chinese Celtics news account with over 600k followers on Weibo is vowing that they would never publish anything Celtics starting right now. pic.twitter.com/m3pWrFQzf5— Wenhao 文灏 (@ThisIsWenhao) October 21, 2021
Kanter's words have led to Tencent, the NBA's Chinese broadcast partner which agreed a $1.5 billion extension of its deal in 2019, swiftly removing highlights and livestreams of Celtics matches. Some social media platforms, betting sites and search engines also took censorial action.
“Tibet is part of China," responded China’s foreign ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin, accusing Kanter of “clout-chasing”.
"We welcome unbiased friends upholding objectivity across the world to Tibet.
The anger against Kanter is palpable on China’s internet. Here is one user saying that Kanter should get assassinated by Turkish President Erdogan ASAP. pic.twitter.com/BJAHMVN7ek— Wenhao 文灏 (@ThisIsWenhao) October 21, 2021
It was always a matter of time. “Kanter” is now officially banned on Weibo. “Celtics” still searchable. pic.twitter.com/Laf0lt80Qn— Wenhao 文灏 (@ThisIsWenhao) October 21, 2021
"In the meanwhile, we never accept the attacks and smears on Tibet’s development.”
China's government has been accused of a range of alleged abuses against figures and communities since taking control of Tibet decades ago, although it claims it is responsible for the peaceful liberation of the region.
Kanter is said to have recently met Tibetans in New York. "The cultural genocide in Tibet is so stifling that more than 150 people have burned themselves alive, hoping that such a horrific act of sacrifice will raise awareness and attention towards the ongoing abuses within Tibet," he claimed.
Looks like Tencent has removed ALL Celtics games this season (ending in April 2022) from live broadcast. Instead fans will only see live updates with pictures and texts. Some Celtics fans are already calling for refund (Tencent has a membership subscription). pic.twitter.com/BloBqmJ0vy— Wenhao 文灏 (@ThisIsWenhao) October 21, 2021
China’s official sports lottery site canceled bettings on this Thursday’s Celtics game “due to team reasons”. pic.twitter.com/ZXHV0NOZ4L— Wenhao 文灏 (@ThisIsWenhao) October 21, 2021
"After learning all of this, I cannot stay silent. I stand with my Tibetan brothers and sisters and I support their calls for freedom.
"The Communist ideology of China has only been around for about 100 years but Buddhist civilization, ideology and philosophy has been around for thousands of years.
"Only the Tibetan people should decide the future of Tibet – 100%. Tibet belongs to the Tibetan people and I hope and believe Tibet will achieve independence."
Interestingly, in his response to Kanter’s posts, Chinese spokesperson said that Kanter’s remarks aren’t worth being rebuked and went on to say how much development China has brought to Tibet. No criticism of the NBA or the Celtics. They are targeting Kanter only. pic.twitter.com/oZYaVn7BqC— Wenhao 文灏 (@ThisIsWenhao) October 21, 2021
This is a picture of #DictatorErdogan regime issuing my 10th arrest warrant for me in the last 4 years. The reason is me standing up for Human Rights and Political Prisoners who are getting tortured and raped.Hey @RTErdoganI don’t care if it’s 10 or 10,000 I’m NOT giving up pic.twitter.com/dN06OwRluo— Enes Kanter (@EnesKanter) October 19, 2021
The incident has echoes of a scandal involving Mesut Ozil in 2019, when Chinese state broadcaster CCTV pulled a match between Arsenal, who the midfielder played for at the time, and Manchester City from its schedule after he criticized the country’s treatment Muslim Uyghurs.
A media blackout of the NBA in China took place in the same year after a Houston Rockets executive tweeted his support for anti-government protesters in Hong Kong, leading to a media blackout of the NBA in China.
Kanter has previously criticized Turkey's authoritarian leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and wore shoes carrying a 'Free Tibet' message during the Celtics' match against the New York Knicks on Wednesday.Also on rt.com Winter Olympics chiefs accused of ignoring alleged genocide of Muslim group at center of political boycott row between US & China