The Chinese government won’t put up with this sort of thing. And LeBron James darn well knows it.
The NBA star suggested Monday it’s better to just shut up and keep your head down than risk offending the rulers of China. Even a seven-word message on Twitter from an NBA general manager can get under their skin, as James and the NBA learned last week.
“So many people could have been harmed, not only physically or financially, but emotionally and spiritually,” James told reporters Monday. “Just be careful what we tweet, what we say and what we do. We do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negative things that come with that too.”
Such fear has revealed a mini-clash of civilizations in an increasingly globalized world, all started by a tweet and driven by a fundamental question about political power:
Why would the world’s most populous country – an economic superpower – get this offended about a since-deleted message posted on social media by a single American sports administrator who isn’t even familiar to most American sports fans?
After all, millions of Americans see revolting messages on social media every day. They deal with it and move on. By contrast, nuclear-armed China practically threatened to shut down the NBA’s business there after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey temporarily posted an image on Twitter Oct. 4 that said, “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”
Is that really all it takes to hurt the feelings of the ruling Communist Party in China?