\u003c/blockquote>\n\n\u003c/div>\u003c/figure>\n","oembed":true,"provider":"twitter","rich":true},"children":[]},{"name":"html","config":{"content":" \u003cp>But the damage was done. Chinese sportswear maker Li Ning Co. and Shanghai Pudong Development Bank Credit Card Center suspended cooperation with the Rockets, while CCTV Sports said it will halt broadcasting the team’s games. The controversy set off a wave of comments on both sides of the dispute, from Republican Senator Ted Cruz to Chinese media and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. co-founder Joe Tsai.\u003c/p> \u003cp>The episode is the \u003ca rel=\"noreferrer noopener\" href=\"https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-09-27/hong-kong-activist-urges-starbucks-to-cancel-maxim-s-franchise\" target=\"_blank\">latest \u003c/a>to highlight the risks for international businesses caught up in the standoff between pro-democracy demonstrators and Hong Kong authorities that has escalated since June. From \u003ca href=\"https://fortune.com/fortune500/starbucks/\" target=\"_blank\">Starbucks\u003c/a> Corp. to Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., \u003ca href=\"https://fortune.com/2019/10/02/starbucks-hong-kong-maxims-protest/\">brands and companies are being targeted\u003c/a> if they’re seen to be supporting either side in the dispute.\u003c/p> \u003cp>It also drags the world of sports into the controversy, setting up emotional reactions in both China and the U.S. The issue is particularly sensitive for the Rockets, who have worked hard to establish a loyal fan base in China.\u003c/p> \u003cp>The Rockets have more ties to China than most NBA teams. Yao Ming, arguably the greatest Chinese basketball player of all time who now leads the Chinese Basketball Association, starred for the Rockets for many years and was the first Chinese player inducted into the NBA’s Hall of Fame.\u003c/p> \u003cp>The team’s owner, Tilman Fertitta, said the Rockets aren’t a political organization and Morey didn’t speak for the team, which is in Tokyo this week to play preseason games. The NBA tried to limit the damage in a statement, saying Morey’s comments were “regrettable.”\u003c/p> \u003cp>“We have great respect for the history and culture of China and hope that sports and the NBA can be used as a unifying force to bridge cultural divides and bring people together,” the NBA said.\u003c/p> \u003ch3>U.S. Backlash\u003c/h3> \u003cp>That comment in turn sparked protests from U.S. politicians.\u003c/p> \u003cp>Cruz, a Texas senator and longtime Rockets fan, tweeted that the NBA “is shamefully retreating” and said he was “proud” to see Morey’s original comment. Both Democratic presidential candidates from Texas also blasted the NBA, with Beto O’Rourke calling the apology “an embarrassment” and Julian Castro saying the U.S. can’t allow American citizens “to be bullied by an authoritarian government.”\u003c/p> "},"children":[]},{"name":"core-embed","config":{"content":"\n\u003cfigure class=\"wp-block-embed-twitter wp-block-embed is-type-rich is-provider-twitter\">\u003cdiv class=\"wp-block-embed__wrapper\">\n\u003cblockquote class=\"twitter-tweet\" data-width=\"500\" data-dnt=\"true\">\u003cp lang=\"en\" dir=\"ltr\">We’re better than this; human rights shouldn’t be for sale & the NBA shouldn’t be assisting Chinese communist censorship.\u003c/p>— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) \u003ca href=\"https://twitter.com/tedcruz/status/1181030466247417861?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\">October 7, 2019\u003c/a>\u003cscript async src=\"https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js\" charset=\"utf-8\">\u003c/script>\u003c/blockquote>\n\n\u003c/div>\u003c/figure>\n","oembed":true,"provider":"twitter","rich":true},"children":[]},{"name":"html","config":{"content":" \u003cp>Tony Fratto, former White House deputy press secretary under George W. Bush and founder of Hamilton Place Strategies in Washington, tweeted that the NBA “crossed the line to stand with China and against American values.”\u003c/p> \u003cp>The NBA’s statement shows the cautious approach companies and organizations have been taking in an effort not to offend China, which has become a main driver of growth for many multinationals.\u003c/p> \u003cp>It’s a sharp reversal for a league that has previously supported outspoken stances on social and political issues, including encouraging protests related to police issues and tolerating sharp criticism of President Donald Trump.\u003c/p> \u003ch3>Be ‘Courteous’\u003c/h3> \u003cp>On the other side of the debate, state-run China Daily commented that foreign organizations need to be “courteous to China if you want to earn money here.”\u003c/p> \u003cp>“Let’s hope the incident with Morey and the Houston Rockets will teach other companies a lesson,” it wrote. “The big Chinese market is open to the world, but those who challenge China’s core interests and hurt Chinese people’s feelings cannot make any profit from it.”\u003c/p> \u003cp>Stepping in to try to bridge the gap was Alibaba’s Tsai, who this summer became the \u003ca href=\"https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-08-16/alibaba-s-tsai-to-buy-nets-and-barclays-arena-for-3-5-billion\" target=\"_blank\" rel=\"noreferrer noopener\">owner\u003c/a> of the Brooklyn Nets. In an \u003ca href=\"https://www.facebook.com/100001583307192/posts/2653378931391524?sfns=mo\" target=\"_blank\" rel=\"noreferrer noopener\">open letter\u003c/a> on Facebook, Tsai attempted to explain China’s anger to Western audiences.\u003c/p> \u003cp>Tsai called the Hong Kong protests a separatist movement, saying support for such movements is a “third-rail” issue in China as its citizens stand united when it comes to the nation’s territorial integrity.\u003c/p> \u003cp>“I don’t know Daryl personally,” Tsai wrote of Morey. “I will take at face value his subsequent apology that he was not as well informed as he should have been. But the hurt that this incident has caused will take a long time to repair.”\u003c/p> \u003ch3>More must-read stories from \u003cem>Fortune\u003c/em>:\u003c/h3> \u003cp>—Why \u003ca href=\"https://fortune.com/2019/10/02/paypal-china-payments-alipay-wechat/\">PayPal’s approval to enter China’s payments market\u003c/a> may be less than it seems\u003cbr>—\u003ca href=\"https://fortune.com/2019/09/26/aston-martin-went-public-year-ago-wheels-fell-off/\">Aston Martin went public a year ago\u003c/a>—and then the wheels fell off\u003cbr>—The trade war is keeping U.S. pork producers from capitalizing on \u003ca href=\"https://fortune.com/2019/09/30/us-china-trade-war-pork-swine-fever/\">China’s pig crisis\u003cbr>\u003c/a>—\u003ca href=\"https://fortune.com/2019/09/28/huawei-ceo-5g-license-competition/\">Huawei CEO has an elaborate plan\u003c/a> to create a 5G rival in the U.S.\u003cbr>—Listen to our audio briefing, \u003ca href=\"http://fortune.com/radio/\">\u003cem>Fortune\u003c/em> 500 Daily\u003cem>\u003cbr>\u003c/em>\u003c/a>\u003cem>Catch up with \u003c/em>\u003ca href=\"https://cloud.newsletters.fortune.com/fortune/nloptin?nl=DATA_SHEET&source=LinkStack\">\u003cem>Data Sheet\u003c/em>\u003c/a>\u003cem>, Fortune’s daily digest on the business of tech.\u003c/em>\u003c/p> "},"children":[]}]}]},{"name":"dianomi","config":{"type":"footer"},"children":[]},{"name":"recirculation","config":{"heading":"You May Like"},"children":[{"name":"content-list-item","config":{"title":"NBA Cancels Community Events in China as Controversy Over Hong Kong Tweet Escalates","permalink":"https://fortune.com/2019/10/09/nba-cancels-preseason-games-china-hong-kong-tweet-houston-rockets/","hasVideo":false,"themeName":"recirculation","isNativoTout":true,"eyebrowLabel":"International","eyebrowLink":"https://fortune.com/section/international/","postId":2712006,"excerpt":"The evolving political rift between the NBA and Beijing could threaten the league’s future in China.","publishedDate":"2019-10-09 13:59:50","type":"post"},"children":[{"name":"image","config":{"aspectRatio":0.5515695067264574,"attachmentId":2712060,"alt":"NBA Commissioer Adam Silver speaks during a press conference prior to the NBA Japan Games 2019 between the Toronto Raptors and Houston Rockets in Saitama on October 8, 2019. - The NBA will not regulate the speech of players, employees and owners, the organisation's commissioner said Tuesday after a tweet from a Houston Rockets executive sparked a backlash in China. (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP) (Photo by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images)","caption":"NBA Commissioer Adam Silver speaks during a press conference prior to the NBA Japan Games 2019 between the Toronto Raptors and Houston Rockets in Saitama on October 8, 2019. The NBA will not regulate the speech of players, employees and owners, the organization's commissioner said Tuesday after a tweet from a Houston Rockets executive sparked a backlash in China. ","crops":[],"height":4955,"imageSize":"recirculation","lazyload":true,"lqipSrc":"https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/GettyImages-1174482916.jpg?quality=60&resize=60,33","postId":2712006,"retina":true,"showCaption":false,"sources":[{"default":true,"transforms":{"resize":[223,123]},"descriptor":223}],"sourceTags":[],"src":"https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/GettyImages-1174482916.jpg","srcset":"https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/GettyImages-1174482916.jpg?resize=446,246 446w,https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/GettyImages-1174482916.jpg?resize=223,123 223w","url":"https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/GettyImages-1174482916.jpg","useBasicImg":false,"usingDataFallback":false,"width":7433,"fallbackImageUrl":"data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP///yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7","picture":false,"sizes":"223px"},"children":[]}]},{"name":"content-list-item","config":{"title":"Lebron James Commented on the NBA’s China Crisis and Now He’s the Target of Hong Kong Protests","permalink":"https://fortune.com/2019/10/16/lebron-james-hong-kong-china-daryl-morey-tweet-protest/","hasVideo":false,"themeName":"recirculation","isNativoTout":false,"eyebrowLabel":"International","eyebrowLink":"https://fortune.com/section/international/","postId":2716329,"excerpt":"On Tuesday evening, basketball and the protests became one, as hundreds gathered in protest of basketball superstar Lebron James’ recent criticisms of Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey. ","publishedDate":"2019-10-16 10:12:20","type":"post"},"children":[{"name":"image","config":{"aspectRatio":0.5515695067264574,"attachmentId":2716349,"alt":"WAN CHAI, HONG KONG - 2019/10/15: Protesters holding a black banner at the court, during the demonstration. Hundreds of protesters gathered to express their anger about Lebron James's tweet and to show support to the General Manager of the Houston Rockets, Daryl Morey, and Adam Silver, Commissioner of the NBA, for defending freedom as a core value in NBA. (Photo by Ivan Cheung/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)","caption":"Protesters holding a black banner at the court, during the demonstration.\nHundreds of protesters gathered to express their anger about Lebron James's tweet and to show support to the General Manager of the Houston Rockets, Daryl Morey, and Adam Silver, Commissioner of the NBA, for defending freedom as a core value in NBA. ","crops":[],"height":3333,"imageSize":"recirculation","lazyload":true,"lqipSrc":"https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/GettyImages-1176164782.jpg?quality=60&resize=60,33","postId":2716329,"retina":true,"showCaption":false,"sources":[{"default":true,"transforms":{"resize":[223,123]},"descriptor":223}],"sourceTags":[],"src":"https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/GettyImages-1176164782.jpg","srcset":"https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/GettyImages-1176164782.jpg?resize=446,246 446w,https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/GettyImages-1176164782.jpg?resize=223,123 223w","url":"https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/GettyImages-1176164782.jpg","useBasicImg":false,"usingDataFallback":false,"width":5000,"fallbackImageUrl":"data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP///yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7","picture":false,"sizes":"223px"},"children":[]}]},{"name":"content-list-item","config":{"title":"For the NBA, Daryl Morey Is an Especially Inconvenient Person to Have Angered China","permalink":"https://fortune.com/2019/10/18/daryl-morey-china-rockets-hong-kong-tweet-controversy/","hasVideo":false,"themeName":"recirculation","isNativoTout":false,"eyebrowLabel":"International","eyebrowLink":"https://fortune.com/section/international/","postId":2718360,"excerpt":"One league source said this week that if the NBA could have picked the one team it least wanted to anger China, “I’m pretty sure the Rockets would be at the top of the list.”","publishedDate":"2019-10-18 19:49:47","type":"post"},"children":[{"name":"image","config":{"aspectRatio":0.5515695067264574,"attachmentId":2718367,"alt":"Dwight Howard celebrates with General Manager Daryl Morey after they defeated the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2015 Western Conference Semifinals.","caption":"Dwight Howard celebrates with General Manager Daryl Morey after they defeated the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2015 Western Conference Semifinals.","crops":[],"height":2100,"imageSize":"recirculation","lazyload":true,"lqipSrc":"https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/GettyImages-473792912.jpg?quality=60&resize=60,33","postId":2718360,"retina":true,"showCaption":false,"sources":[{"default":true,"transforms":{"resize":[223,123]},"descriptor":223}],"sourceTags":[],"src":"https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/GettyImages-473792912.jpg","srcset":"https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/GettyImages-473792912.jpg?resize=446,246 446w,https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/GettyImages-473792912.jpg?resize=223,123 223w","url":"https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/GettyImages-473792912.jpg","useBasicImg":false,"usingDataFallback":false,"width":3150,"fallbackImageUrl":"data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP///yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7","picture":false,"sizes":"223px"},"children":[]}]},{"name":"content-list-item","config":{"title":"Broadcasting Rights, Ticket Sales, Sponsorships: NBA’s Hong Kong Crisis Risks Its Massive China Business","permalink":"https://fortune.com/2019/10/10/nba-china-business-hong-kong/","hasVideo":false,"themeName":"recirculation","isNativoTout":false,"eyebrowLabel":"International","eyebrowLink":"https://fortune.com/section/international/","postId":2712661,"excerpt":"A look at the league's huge ecosystem in China, where it's now at odds with the government and its many fans.","publishedDate":"2019-10-10 09:30:48","type":"post"},"children":[{"name":"image","config":{"aspectRatio":0.5515695067264574,"attachmentId":2712703,"alt":"NBA Shanghai Game 2019 - Previews","caption":"The Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai will host an NBA game Thursday night amid the league's standoff with China.","crops":[],"height":683,"imageSize":"recirculation","lazyload":true,"lqipSrc":"https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/GettyImages-1180150530.jpg?quality=60&resize=60,33","postId":2712661,"retina":true,"showCaption":false,"sources":[{"default":true,"transforms":{"resize":[223,123]},"descriptor":223}],"sourceTags":[],"src":"https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/GettyImages-1180150530.jpg","srcset":"https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/GettyImages-1180150530.jpg?resize=446,246 446w,https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/GettyImages-1180150530.jpg?resize=223,123 223w","url":"https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/GettyImages-1180150530.jpg","useBasicImg":false,"usingDataFallback":false,"width":1024,"fallbackImageUrl":"data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP///yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7","picture":false,"sizes":"223px"},"children":[]}]},{"name":"content-list-item","config":{"title":"China’s Emotional Past With the NBA Sheds Light on the Hong Kong Crisis Today","permalink":"https://fortune.com/2019/10/11/nba-and-china-hong-kong-protests/","hasVideo":false,"themeName":"recirculation","isNativoTout":false,"eyebrowLabel":"Sports","eyebrowLink":"https://fortune.com/section/sports/","postId":2711436,"excerpt":"The league's relationship with China is fraught with complications and contradictions. ","publishedDate":"2019-10-11 15:43:56","type":"post"},"children":[{"name":"image","config":{"aspectRatio":0.5515695067264574,"attachmentId":2713828,"alt":"Yao Ming #11 talks with teammate Chuck Hayes #44 of the Houston Rockets on the bench during the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center on October 26, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.","caption":"China's ties to the NBA are deep-rooted and sentimental, making it hard for the country to cut ties with the league in light of recent events having to do with Hong Kong's protests.","crops":[],"height":2363,"imageSize":"recirculation","lazyload":true,"lqipSrc":"https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/GettyImages-106786361.jpg?quality=60&resize=60,33","postId":2711436,"retina":true,"showCaption":false,"sources":[{"default":true,"transforms":{"resize":[223,123]},"descriptor":223}],"sourceTags":[],"src":"https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/GettyImages-106786361.jpg","srcset":"https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/GettyImages-106786361.jpg?resize=446,246 446w,https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/GettyImages-106786361.jpg?resize=223,123 223w","url":"https://content.fortune.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/GettyImages-106786361.jpg","useBasicImg":false,"usingDataFallback":false,"width":3441,"fallbackImageUrl":"data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP///yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7","picture":false,"sizes":"223px"},"children":[]}]},{"name":"content-list-item","config":{"title":"As China and the NBA Feud, Tencent May Be the Big Victim","permalink":"https://fortune.com/2019/10/11/china-nba-feud-tencent-blizzard-fortnite-epic/","hasVideo":false,"themeName":"recirculation","isNativoTout":false,"eyebrowLabel":"International","eyebrowLink":"https://fortune.com/section/international/","postId":2713698,"excerpt":"Tencent has its brand on the line—but little control.","publishedDate":"2019-10-11 09:19:20","type":"post"},"children":[{"name":"image","config":{"aspectRatio":0.5515695067264574,"attachmentId":2713699,"alt":"BRAZIL - 2019/07/17: In this photo illustration the Tencent Games logo is seen displayed on a smartphone. 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