The Boston Celtics games were withdrawn from the Chinese media after the center Enes Kanter tweeted a two-minute video of him expressing his support for Tibet wearing shoes with the phrase “Free Tibet” during Wednesday night’s game against the New York Knicks.
“I am here to add my voice and speak about what is happening in Tibet. Under the brutal law of the Chinese government, the basic rights and freedoms of the Tibetan people are non-existent,” Kanter said in a video posted Wednesday on Twitter and Instagram. He referred to Chinese President Xi Jinping as a “brutal dictator” in the text when he posted the video, and he wore a T-shirt with the image of the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader.
Kanter followed that up, wearing shoes designed by Baidiucao, a Chinese-born dissident cartoonist and cartoonist living in Australia.
On Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said that Kanter was “trying to attract attention” and that his comments “were not worth refuting.”
“We will never accept such attacks to discredit the development and progress of Tibet,” the spokesman said. The New York Times reported Thursday that the Celtics games were pulled from Tencent, the Chinese company that broadcasts NBA games (ESPN and TenCent have a content-sharing partnership, and Tencent is an NBA rights partner).
Replays of previous games are no longer available and upcoming games are not set to display. Games involving the Philadelphia 76ers are also not broadcast in China, two years after then-Houston Rockets executive Daryl Morey tweeted his support for the democracy movement in China-ruled Hong Kong ahead of preseason games. of the NBA in the country. Chinese state broadcaster CCTV stopped broadcasting NBA games after that.
The NBA and Tencent have not commented on the situation.
Kanter’s comments came on the day the Olympic torch arrived in Beijing in preparation for the 2022 Olympics, prompting calls for a boycott of the Chinese treatment of Tibet, Uighur Muslims and Hong Kong.
Kanter has a long history of social activism. He has been an outspoken critic of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and was indicted in his home country in 2018 on charges of belonging to an armed terrorist group, which he denies. Turkey, which revoked his passport, is requesting his extradition.
Information from Reuters was included in this report.
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Chinese media remove Celtics after Kanter remarks