Protests in Hong Kong have garnered interest amongst global affair junkies since they began in March. Regrettably, this movement wasn’t front page news– until last month when the Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey expressed support for pro-democracy Hong-Kongers on Social Media. His statement would have been little more than mundane personal opinion, if the NBA hadn’t reacted out of a fear of losing the lucrative Chinese market, saying that Morey’s anti-CCP views didn’t represent their league.
How Basketball Started A Conversation About Chinese Authoritarianism
Soon after, activists wearing ‘Free Hong Kong’ t-shirts were thrown out of a Washington Wizards game. Lebron James, a three time NBA champion and MVP momentarily stopped being ‘King James’ and for a short time was ‘Chairman James’ for criticizing the Rocket’s GM. Satirical T-shirts comparing him to Mao Zedong flew off the shelves.
These tidbits of information seem like mere fodder for small talk, but altogether they prove an important point. The whole fiasco over the National Basketball Association’s relationship with the People’s Republic of China business brought mass attention to a story which wasn’t wholly familiar to the average westerner. Now, congress is trying to take real action to support protesters in Hong Kong. American college students, even normal ones who usually stay a yardstick away from ‘woke’ campus politics, are up in arms at seeing their childhood heroes wanly rationalize the PRC’s despotic actions.
China Constantly Infringes Upon Religious Practice
Hong Kong shouldn’t be the only area where Chinese authoritarianism causes outrage in the global community. The PRC has been routinely violating the religious freedom of its citizens for decades. In fact, a situation which looked better a few years ago has gotten worse under President Xi Jingping. In the Xinjiang region, millions of Uighur Muslims have been locked in reeducation camps. China claims this is a counterterrorism policy. However, the United States Committee on International Religious Freedom was clear in a report from April that the situation in China’s west is grave and oppressive. A religious movement founded in China, Falun Gong, has also provoked the Xi government’s wrath. The same report suggests that China seeks Falun Gong’s total eradication.
Most concerning of all is China’s widespread persecution of Christians. According to watchdog groups, China’s quietly growing Christian population is subject to many severe penalties. Christians can’t take their children to church, and instead must send them to Communist youth activities (Communist materialism violates the Christian conscience.) Believers and priests are thrown into prison for religious activities, or protests against the government’s treatment of their co-religionists. Worshipping away from the CCP’s prying eyes is harshly cracked down on. Extrajudicial killings of Christian clergy and activists, though thankfully not yet common, aren’t unheard of.
China Perceives Christianity As An Ideological Threat
It’s clear that China has ramped up this persecution because they view Christians as a threat. After all, Christianity is directly counter to the materialist ideology of Marxism, as Christ transcends the material. It also challenges Confucian notions of an apatheistic universal order: rather than ordering their lives to harmony, Christians are challenged by our Lord to order our lives towards him, which can ‘shake things up.’ So really, its no surprise that the Communist Party and President Xi believe that if Christianity spread in China, it would threaten their regime’s longevity.
Hopefully therefore, the interest the NBA situation has created over Chinese human rights abuses won’t end there. After all, China’s violations of religious freedom, and the repression it foists against people of faith should draw nothing but utter outrage from those who believe in American and Catholic values.