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China bans streaming of Boston Celtics NBA games after player calls Xi Jinping "brutal dictator": report

Boston Celtics player Enes Kanter, who called Xi Jinping a "brutal dictator", posted a video wearing a T-shirt of the Dalai Lama and criticising China treatment Tibet.

October 22, 2021 / 02:10 PM IST
Chinese President Xi Jinping was called a

Chinese President Xi Jinping was called a "brutal dictator" by a Boston Celtics player.

China has stopped the online streaming of Boston Celtics NBA games after one of its players called Chinese President Xi Jinping a "brutal dictator" and criticised Beijing’s treatment of Tibet, the New York Times reported.

"Dear Brutal Dictator XI JINPING and the Chinese Government. Tibet belongs to the Tibetan people!" basketball player Enes Kanter said in a message posted on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram on October 20, along with a video.

National Basketball Association games -US basketball league - are hugely popular in China.


In a separate post, Kanter, 29, shared photos of sneakers with Tibetan iconography and the slogan "Free Tibet".

"I stand with my Tibetan brothers and sisters, and I support their calls for Freedom," the Boston Celtics center wrote in the caption.

In 2018, China denied permission to screen Disney's Winnie the Pooh film reportedly after the internet compared the film’s main character, the bear, to Xi Jinping.

Earlier this year, several foreign brands, such as H&M, Nike and Adidas, came under fire and faced boycott in China as a fallout of sanctions imposed by the European Union, United States, Britain and Canada over China’s human rights violation in the western region of Xinjiang.

After the player’s comments, Chinese tech giant Tencent’s sports site pulled all upcoming Boston Celtics games from its schedule, underscoring the uneasy relationship between the NBA and China.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a news briefing on Thursday that Enes Kanter was "trying to get attention" and that his remarks "were not worth refuting".

Two years ago, China’s state broadcaster CCTV dropped the NBA after then manager of another team, Houston Rockets, tweeted a message of support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. E-commerce vendors in the country had removed listings for the team’s merchandise.

Tencent is no longer streaming games involving the Philadelphia 76ers, where the ex- Houston Rockets manager Daryl Morey is now the president.

During that crisis, the NBA had said that the league would not seek to halt players from speaking out on social issues. This indicates that Enes Kanter is unlikely to face any formal repercussions over his criticism of Xi Jinping and China.

(With inputs from AFP and Reuters)
Moneycontrol News
first published: Oct 22, 2021 12:05 pm

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