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Women's Tennis Association Shames NBA by Standing Up to China in a Big Way

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The Chinese Communist Party has been committing human rights violations for decades. On Thursday, the Women’s Tennis Association took a strong stand against the repressive regime.

Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai alleged last month that “a high-ranking Communist Party official” sexually assaulted her, according to Yahoo Sports. The CCP promptly took action to suppress the story.

Amid the Chinese cover-up, Peng “disappeared from public view” for a number of weeks.

Peng has since re-emerged, but WTA Chairman Steve Simon believes something fishy may still be going on.

Simon said in a statement on Thursday that he has “serious doubts that she is free, safe and not subject to censorship, coercion and intimidation.”

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As a result of the CCP’s actions, he said, he and the WTA Board of Directors announced “the immediate suspension of all WTA tournaments in China.”

“In good conscience, I don’t see how I can ask our athletes to compete there when Peng Shuai is not allowed to communicate freely and has seemingly been pressured to contradict her allegation of sexual assault,” Simon said.

“Given the current state of affairs, I am also greatly concerned about the risks that all of our players and staff could face if we were to hold events in China in 2022,” he said.

Do you support the WTA's decision?

Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Chinese state-run newspaper the Global Times, criticized the WTA’s decision.

“WTA is coercing Peng Shuai to support the West’s attack on Chinese system,” he said in a tweet on Thursday. “They are depriving Peng Shuai’s freedom of expression, demanding that her description of her current situation must meet their expectation.”

By all accounts, this would appear to be pure misinformation, as the tech giants like to call it.

Peng is far from the only person who has suffered at the hands of the CCP. The U.S. State Department estimated as of October that up to 2 million Uyghurs and other minorities in China had been forced into internment camps since 2017, according to CNN.

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Given the Chinese government’s genocide of Uyghurs and suppression of any information potentially harmful to the communist regime, the WTA clearly made the right decision in pulling its events from the country.

Sadly, at least one major sports league in the United States has yet to break ties with China or condemn its repressive government.

Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter Freedom has been outspoken in his criticism of Chinese oppression and the NBA’s relationship with that country. While he said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had not banned him from speaking out, Silver and the league hadn’t supported him, either.

“If they were really supporting me, they would have put something out there,” Freedom told CNN in October. “They would have put out some kind of statement.”

The NBA is in the midst of an eight-year apparel deal with Nike that began in the 2017-18 season, ESPN reported. The sportswear giant has been connected to forced labor in China.

In a statement earlier this year, Nike said it was “concerned about reports of forced labor in, and connected to, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR),” CNN reported.

However, the company insisted that it “does not source products from the XUAR and we have confirmed with our contract suppliers that they are not using textiles or spun yarn from the region.”

According to Forbes, this does not mean Nike isn’t profiting from slave labor. A study by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute found Nike was one of 83 companies potentially connected to slave labor in China.

“According to the researchers, Uighurs, a persecuted ethnic minority from China’s western Xinjiang region, have been funneled to work in factories in other provinces under conditions ‘that strongly suggest forced labour,'” Forbes reported.

So even if Nike is not sourcing products directly from the XUAR, there is strong evidence to suggest Uyghurs are being forced to work for the company in factories all over China.

The NBA should absolutely cut ties with China and any company linked to slave labor in that country.

The WTA had the guts to do this, but the NBA didn’t — and Freedom thinks he knows why.

“There are so many athletes, so many actors, so many singers and so many people who have a platform that are speaking out about many of the issues out there in the world,” he told CNN.

“But when it comes to China … they are scared because they care too much about money, they care too much about business and they care too much about endorsement deals.

“To me, the human rights, and saving people’s lives, comes first.”

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Grant is a graduate of Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He has five years of writing experience with various outlets and enjoys covering politics and sports.
Grant is a graduate of Virginia Tech with a bachelor's degree in journalism. He has five years of writing experience with various outlets and enjoys covering politics and sports.




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