Bahr: China censorship a blow to American values


Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Tsuen Wan March took place on Aug. 25 as part of the 2019 Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protests. Columnist Connor Bahr thinks China’s actions in response to Hong Kong protests are damaging to democracy and freedom, the core values in America.

Connor Bahr

Hong Kong is currently in the midst of a rebellion. Hong Kong is a semi-autonomous “special administrative region” that is ultimately under the power of China. However, that relationship has always been strained and the final straw came earlier this year when the government created a bill that would allow China to extradite people from Hong Kong to the mainland.

At first glance, this bill seems harmless and actually pretty helpful. As those who champion the bill say, it would fix a loophole where Hong Kong becomes a refuge for fugitives. The only problem is that corruption within the Chinese judicial system runs rampant. Due process is largely just an unused concept, and China has a habit of making political opponents disappear. Clearly, the people of Hong Kong are fighting for democracy and freedom, the values we Americans should cherish and support. 

The protests started with large marches. Millions of people marched through the streets to protest the bill. They also blocked entrance to government buildings so that the bill could not be officially debated. As the protests ramped up, the police began using tear gas against the protesters. Even though the bill was legally declared “dead” by Carrie Lam, the Hong Kong chief executive, protests are still continuing to build and it is likely that they will not stop until the protesters are sure that China is going to leave them independent and democratic. 

However, in the past month, some companies have come under heavy fire for punishing those who support Hong Kong so that China will not pull their product off the market.

For example, Blizzard Entertainment, a game company that made games like Hearthstone and Overwatch, has faced huge backlash after suspending a player for making pro-Hong Kong statements. Similarly, the NBA fired a pro-Hong Kong sports executive after China saw a tweet the executive made and demanded that he be punished. Not only did the NBA bow to the will of China, but then tweeted an apology. This happened all during a time when slogans like “Give me liberty or give me death” were plastered on their streets. 

The answer to “why?” is very simple. In between the executive making his tweet and the NBA responding, merchandise from the NBA was taken off of e-commerce websites. A large part of Blizzard’s player-base resides in China.

The bottom line is that China is important to the profit of both of these companies and it seems they are willing to actively stand in the way of democracy and freedom by censoring anti-Chinese views all for the sake of profit.

This is a punch in the jaw to American values and to the people who are taking inspiration from those values to gain freedom.