Yao Ming recently invited Boston Celtics big man Enes Kanter Freedom to China in an attempt to change the latter’s tune about the Asian powerhouse. Freedom, who has been a vocal critic of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, did not waste much time responding to the former Houston Rockets center’s offer. Enes Kanter: Just yesterday, I saw on the news that former NBA player Yao Ming invited me to China. I want to be very clear. I have nothing against Chinese people. My problem is with the cultish Chinese Communist Party and the brutal dictator, Xi Jinping. Well, I wanna say thank you for your kind offer. And yes, I accept your invite. I will like to come to China this summer and see everything with my own eyes. But on this trip, will we be able to visit the Uyghur slave labor camps? Or visit the innocent women being tortured, raped, and abused?
American basketball player Sonny Weems has been subjected to racial abuse from fans while playing in China. In a video circulating on social media, fans can be heard repeatedly shouting the “N” word and “get out of China” at 35-year-old Weems, who plays for the Guangdong Southern Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association.
In a statement on Friday, the CBA said it has a “zero-tolerance attitude toward any discriminatory words or deeds,” and in an open letter to fans asked them not to engage in “uncivilized behavior” and “vulgar words.” “Whether on or off the field, fans should watch the game in a civilized manner, respect each other, do not do anything that damages the reputation of the team,” reads the letter.
Former basketball star Yao Ming on Monday invited staunch Beijing critic Enes Kanter Freedom to visit China after the Boston Celtics player urged athletes to boycott the Winter Olympics in the capital. Kanter has emerged as one of China’s most vocal critics in the sporting world, a rare athlete willing to forgo lucrative endorsements to speak on issues such as Beijing’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim and Tibetan minorities.
Yao, China’s most famous basketball star and one of its Olympic bid ambassadors, was asked about Kanter’s politics at a press gathering in Beijing on Monday. “I’ve heard of him, but I can’t really judge him because I don’t know him,” the retired Houston Rockets player and current president of the China Basketball Association said. “If there is an opportunity, I would like to invite him to visit China… Then he may have a more comprehensive understanding of us.”
Amid a widespread backlash, the 45-year-old has also had to put his tail between his legs and apologize for the outburst that has already been seen close to 3 million times online. “In re-listening to this week’s podcast, I recognize that I come across as lacking empathy,” began Palihapitiya in a short statement. “I acknowledge that entirely.” “As a refugee, my family fled a country with its own set of human rights issues so this is something that is very much a part of my lived experience. To be clear, my belief is that human rights matter, whether in China, the United States, or elsewhere. Full stop,” he finished.