Multinational Corporations in the Crosshairs

Western multinational corporations have increasingly found themselves in the crosshairs of the Chinese Communist Party. In the second week of October, the US National Basketball Association became embroiled in a predicament after Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets, tweeted his support for the ongoing pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong. In the wake of an outcry on the Chinese Internet, the league took an initially tough line against Morey, including an admission that Morey had ‘hurt the feelings of Chinese fans’. This sparked outrage among American lawmakers, prompting the league to change its stance and support Morey. This U-turn enraged China, with its state television network announcing the suspension of its current broadcast arrangements for the league’s preseason games in China. In the same week, Blizzard, an American video game company whose parent company is partly owned by China’s tech-giant Tencent, expelled Chung Ng Wai, a leading professional gamer from Hong Kong, from an international e-sports tournament after he had voiced his support for protestors in Hong Kong. By contrast, Epic Games, another American video game company, stated that it would never penalise its game players or content creators for their political speech. In this context, the creators of South Park, a satirical animated series, released an episode in early October criticising China’s free speech policies and Hollywood’s increasing self-censorship amid its expanding Chinese market. Although this resulted in South Park being banned on Chinese video streaming sites, the creators only issued a mocking ‘apology’ to China. Such a response contrasted with that of Apple, which, having been denounced by China’s state media, on 9 October decided to remove from its online store an app that helped protestors in Hong Kong to track police movements. NLiu


(Sources: Business Insider; CNBC; The New York Times 1; The New York Times 2; News China; Reuters; The Verge)

Subscribe to Made in China

Made in China publications are open access and always available as a free download. To subscribe to email alerts for each issue of the Journal, newly published books, and information about upcoming events, please provide your contact information below.

Back to Top