What did Kanter say?
In a nearly three-minute video that accompanied the comment and that Kanter shared with his approximately 475,000 followers on Twitter, 700,000 followers on Instagram, and 200,000 followers on Facebook, he condemned what he called a “cultural genocide” in Tibet. “The Chinese dictatorship is erasing Tibetan identity and culture…After I learned all of this, I cannot stay silent,” he said, adding, “I hope, and believe, that Tibet will achieve independence.” He then followed up his statement with another post showing off shoes emblazoned with the “Free Tibet” slogan.
- The Chinese Foreign Ministry dismissed (in English, Chinese) Kanter’s activism as “clout-chasing” and said that his “wrong remarks are not worth refuting.”
- On social media site Weibo, a Boston Celtics fan page with over 600,000 followers announced (in Chinese) that it would cease posting updates. The statement concluded, “We will resolutely resist any action that undermines national harmony and the dignity of the motherland!”
Is this another “Morey moment”?
Probably not. While Beijing’s full-court press against the NBA took the world by surprise in late 2019, Morey was a high-profile figure leading what was arguably China’s favorite basketball team, given star Yáo Míng’s 姚明 Hall of Fame stint with the Rockets years earlier.
- The blowback against Kanter may also have been limited, the analyst Fergus Ryan suggested, because his tweet called out Xi Jinping by name, leading to much more rapid censorship of mentions of the post on the Chinese internet.
However, the incident is “likely to serve as a preview of the sporting world’s impending collision with China over human rights in the run-up to Beijing’s Winter Olympics in February,” the Wall Street Journal writes. Earlier this week, protesters disrupted an Olympic torch-lighting ceremony in Greece, and several American ice skating Olympic hopefuls recently criticized China’s “abysmal” human rights record in a press conference.