The approach of our media, corporate elite and grossly overpaid athletes is to ignore China’s atrocities in return for huge profits from having access to the Chinese marketplace and exploited workforce. But the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has found the courage to call out outrageous Chinese behavior, even if it costs them hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties.
Chinese national, Peng Shuai, is one of the highest ranked women tennis players on the planet winning the women’s doubles at both Wimbledon and the French Open. Recently, she accused former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli of forcing her to have sexual relations. Since then, she has disappeared only to reappear in carefully choreographed settings. But independent human rights groups aren’t buying it: “What we have here is essentially a state-controlled narrative: only the government and its affiliated media are generating and distributing the content about Peng’s story,” said Maya Wang, senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW).”
Former number-one-player Naomi Osaka tweeted: “Censorship is never OK at any cost. I hope Peng Shuai and her family are safe and OK.” Serena Williams, winner of 23 singles Grand Slam titles, stated: “I hope she is safe and found as soon as possible. This must be investigated and we must not stay silent.”
These tennis superstars have the potential to lose millions of dollars should China retaliate. But they don’t care. Ms. Peng’s safety is their main concern.
Contrast this to the gutless grovelers in the NBA (National Basketball Association). When Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey stated that China was reneging on its deal to keep Hong Kong free until 2047, China threatened to retaliate by cancelling billions of dollars in royalties. NBA superstar LeBron James responded, “So just be careful what we tweet and what we say and what we do. Even though yes, we do have freedom of speech, it can be a lot of negative that comes with it.” Houston Rocket’s superstar James Harden was blunter stating “We apologize. You know, we love China.”
China has deals with the NBA that total billions a year. In fact, James makes $32 million annually as a spokesman for Nike who manufacturers most of its clothing in China using slave wages.
And such behavior is not just confined to simpering athletes. Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase (which still exists only because the taxpayers bailed it out in 2008), recently joked that JP Morgan Chase would last longer than the Chinese Communist Party. The Chinese government was not amused and Dimon retracted his comment stating, “”I regret and should not have made that comment. I was trying to emphasize the strength and longevity of our company.”
China’s record on human rights is abysmal. The Uighurs, a Muslim ethnic group near Tibet, are forced into re-education camps and tortured. Freedom of religion is suppressed. In an attempt to decrease its population growth, families were restricted to only having one child. Predictably, as in any male dominated society, unborn female babies were aborted. In rural provinces where abortion was not available, midwives keep a bucket of water while attending to births. Why? So that female infants could be immediately drowned.
In 2001, the United States led the way to allow China into to enter The World Trade Association. The theory was that China would be become more democratic and respect human rights. What has actually happened was the opposite. President Xi has for all practical purposes declared himself Emperor for Life. China continues to abuse our patent laws, flood our country with the opioid fentanyl (killing tens of thousands of Americans annually) and manufacture cheap knock-offs of our products. Yet, America’s ruling class is becoming more like China, as evidenced by its embracing changes in public policy via judicial fiat and bureaucratic fatwas, rather than democratic process.
Hopefully the courage of the athletes in the WTA will be the first step in giving our corporate leaders and politicians some spine. And hopefully, Peng Shuia will be released unharmed, unapologetic and able to continue her career.