On October 8, Cover News launched a survey questionnaire on Weibo asking for readers’ take on CCTV Sports’ decision to suspend its NBA broadcast following the Houston Rockets controversy. The questionnaire concluded that the Chinese position on the issue is very clear and asked readers to pick one of the following four choices to express their view:
I support the broadcast ban! Well done!
I’m fine with not watching this kind of NBA!
Morey must apologize!
Basketball has no borders, fans have their motherland!
Netizens have ridiculed the survey, saying that there is in fact only one choice and that is to select all of the options, since this country does not need a second voice.
On the same day, the People’s Daily also posted an identical survey with a similar selection of answers:
[I’m fine with not watching this kind of NBA!] Recently, Daryl Morey angered fans with his Hong Kong comments. On the afternoon of October 8th, CCTV Sports announced its decision to suspend the NBA broadcasts. How do you view Morey’s blunder?
Basketball has no borders, but fans have their motherland!
The issue of sovereignty does not allow for vagueness
@Suchres: I have been represented against my will and so I cannot express my own views. This time it’s the NBA, next time it will be Disney, Apple, Premier League, Uniqlo, Nintendo, Sony… The final scene of the Cold War is coming.
@Yúhuāngdàn: ??? Don’t these options all express the same view?
@Kuàichība666: It appears like a lot of options but there is really only one option, select all.
@Dongdongs6_592_881: Did the government allow you to speak? Shut up or else get out of China
@Dìngnàozhōng: Is this about spotting the difference?
@Zhuānduìnǎoziyǒukēngdegāngjīng: What does the NBA matter when you’ve been through days when even QvodPlayer is gone.
@outXiǎoxióngyǔzhòufēngkuáng: This country does not need a second voice
@Wànshìyóujiǔ: Do you agree or agree or agree? This is what you call a selection?
@Huǒxīngchéngbùyī: Given so many options, the question is: are you fully supportive? Or… do you refuse to support?
@SaddestMo: Please raise your hand if you disagree, nope, nope, nope, nope.
@NiúròugānTerminator: Is there a 5th option? [Chinese]
Changhong Electric isn’t just taking their Houston Rockets-branded mini fridges off the shelves, they’re actually recalling them. Everyone has to send their refrigerators back to Sichuan now, because this how a normal country reacts to a deleted tweet in 2019. pic.twitter.com/yv8t4FBOeu
The decision, which drew a sharp rebuke from Beijing, targets 20 Chinese public security bureaus and eight companies including video surveillance firm Hikvision, as well as leaders in facial recognition technology SenseTime Group Ltd and Megvii Technology Ltd.
The action bars the firms from buying components from U.S. companies without U.S. government approval – a potentially crippling move for some of them. It follows the same blueprint used by Washington in its attempt to limit the influence of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL] for what it says are national security reasons.
U.S. officials said the action was not tied to this week’s resumption of trade talks with China, but it signals no let-up in U.S. President Donald Trump’s hard-line stance as the world’s two biggest economies seek to end their 15-month trade war.
[…] The other companies on the list are speech recognition firm iFlytek Co, surveillance equipment maker Zhejiang Dahua Technology, data recovery firm Xiamen Meiya Pico Information Co, facial recognition firm Yitu Technology and Yixin Science and Technology Co. [Source]
In a statement, the US Commerce Department said “these entities have been implicated in human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance against Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups in [Xinjiang].”
For the last two-and-a-half years, China has been detaining hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in what Beijing alternately describes as “voluntary de-radicalization camps” and “vocational training centers.”
[…] “The US Government and Department of Commerce cannot and will not tolerate the brutal suppression of ethnic minorities within China,” Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a statement. “This action will ensure that our technologies, fostered in an environment of individual liberty and free enterprise, are not used to repress defenseless minority populations.” [Source]
The sanction has drawn strong objection from Hikvision and other companies that are affected. Hikvision said in a statement that the company strongly opposes the U.S. decision and that it had been trying to address the administration’s human rights concerns for the past year.
The companies run the gamut in terms of capabilities and focus. Some are specialists in facial-recognition systems, voice-recognition software, surveillance cameras and phone tracking systems that are sold largely to China’s security forces. Others have ambitions of building systems that can filter social media content and products that could help doctors reach cancer diagnoses.
As a result, the impact of the bans will be varied. For the surveillance camera maker Hikvision, which makes a significant portion of the world’s security cameras, the impact could be significant. A block could have a roughly 10 percent impact on revenue, technology research firm Sanford Bernstein said in a Monday note. While the company would have to replace some American-made chips placed in its high-end cameras, most of the impact would come on the back-end servers that help analyze footage as part of its security systems.
The impact could be larger in terms of broader sales ambitions. Hikvision has worked to court the American market, including a number of government-connected customers.
For those focused on artificial-intelligence software, like Yitu and Megvii, the direct hit could be small. Nonetheless, the blacklist could impact them in other ways. The artificial intelligence start-ups on the list have partnerships with American software firms, connections to American universities and have been active in trying to hire foreign talent. In all those cases, the blocks will likely hamper their efforts. [Source]
The U.S. move, coming on top of restrictions against other Chinese companies such as Huawei Technologies Co., is likely to deepen a growing schism between the U.S. and China’s technology ecosystem, said Matt Sheehan, a fellow at MacroPolo, part of the Paulson Institute think tank that focuses on the Chinese economy.
“It’s leading a lot of private tech companies [in China], as well as the government, into a defensive crouch, where they feel like they need to band together and really once again turn inwards,” he said.
Artificial intelligence is a key pillar in China’s ambitions to dominate the global technology market, with a stated goal of becoming a global AI leader by 2030. Unlike in the semiconductor and aerospace sectors, where state support has proved crucial, private companies have successfully taken the lead in developing China’s AI sector.
A major challenge for these companies now will be to secure access to cutting-edge processors where the market is currently dominated by American companies. That includes powerful graphics-processing units made by Nvidia Corp. , of Santa Clara, Calif. The chips are used by AI companies to crunch the massive amounts of data that feed algorithms underpinning AI programs. Nvidia is widely seen as a leader in the field without a clear non-U.S. alternative. [Source]
The administration’s move suggests that President Trump is increasingly willing to listen to the advice of American officials focused on the strategic challenges posed by China and who are concerned about its human rights abuses, even if Mr. Trump himself never seems to pay much attention to those.
[…] More broadly, the White House signaled its willingness to take aim at China’s technological dreams. China has plowed billions of dollars into companies developing advanced hardware and software to catch up with the United States. Some of the companies added to the list on Monday are among the world’s most valuable artificial intelligence start-ups.
[…] It is also a potentially groundbreaking use of a powerful tool that the American government typically uses against terrorists. The Chinese companies and police departments were placed on what is called an entity list, which forbids them to buy sensitive American exports unless Washington grants American companies specific permission to sell to them.
Use of the entity list over a human rights issue may be a first, said Julian Ku, a professor of constitutional and international law at Hofstra University.
“As far as I know, it was the first time Commerce explicitly cited human rights as a foreign policy interest of the U.S. for purposes of export controls,” he said, referring to the Department of Commerce, which manages the entity lists. “This is not an implausible reading of the regulations, but it is new and has potentially very broad applicability.” [Source]
The State Department said it would not issue visas to Chinese government and Communist Party officials believed to be responsible for or complicit in mass detentions and abuses in western Xinjiang province. It did not identify the targeted officials or say how many were affected by the ban, which can also be applied to their immediate family members.
In a statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged China to halt its “campaign of repression” in the region, release all those arbitrarily detained and stop trying to coerce members of Chinese Muslim minority groups residing abroad to return to China.
“The protection of human rights is of fundamental importance, and all countries must respect their human rights obligations and commitments,” Pompeo said. “The United States will continue to review its authorities to respond to these abuses.” [Source]
The following censorship instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. The name of the issuing body has been omitted to protect the source.
All websites: Delete the episode “Band in China” from the 23rd season of U.S. animated show “South Park.” Close relevant comment boards, put [“South Park”] on banned search keyword list, and immediately remove relevant resources. (October 4, 2019) [Chinese]
The Comedy Central animated show “South Park” has been banned in Chinafollowing the release of the second episode of its 23rd season, “Band in China,” which criticized Hollywood producers and other American corporations for acquiescing to Chinese censorship demands. Daniel Victor reports for The New York Times:
Last week’s episode, called “Band in China,” appeared to cross a new line for the Chinese authorities. On Baidu Tieba, a popular discussion platform, searches for “South Park” on Tuesday returned the following message: “According to the relevant law and regulation, this section is temporarily not open.”
Searches for the show were also fruitless on Youku, a video hosting service, which similarly cited “the relevant law and regulation.” On Weibo, the country’s most popular social network, posts mentioning the show could not be found. [Source]
“Like the NBA, we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts. We too love money more than freedom and democracy. Xi doesn’t look like Winnie the Pooh at all. Tune into our 300th episode this Wednesday at 10! Long live the great Communist Party of China. May the autumn’s sorghum harvest be bountiful. We good now China?” [Source]
Values of equality, respect and freedom of expression have long defined the NBA — and will continue to do so. As an American-based basketball league operating globally, among our greatest contributions are these values of the game.
[…] It is inevitable that people around the world — including from America and China — will have different viewpoints over different issues. It is not the role of the NBA to adjudicate those differences.
However, the NBA will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say on these issues. We simply could not operate that way. [Source]
State media responded with their own interpretation of “free speech”: