- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York Democrat, may not have much in common, but they do agree on this: They want the NBA to place its activities in China on hold.

In a letter Wednesday to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, eight lawmakers urged the league to “[s]uspend NBA activities in China until government-controlled broadcasters and government-controlled commercial sponsors end their boycott of NBA activities and the selective treatment of the Houston Rockets.”

The letter also called on the league to “reevaluate the NBA’s training camp in Xinjiang, where up to a million Chinese citizens are held in concentration camps as part of a massive, government-run campaign of ethno-religious repression.”

The letter came with Mr. Silver headed to Shanghai after Chinese broadcasters suspended airing preseason games and cancelled several NBA Cares events after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted support for the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

“We believe that any speech that challenges national sovereignty and social stability is not within the scope of freedom of speech,” said the statement by China’s CCTV.

After the NBA issued an initial statement expressing regret over Mr. Morey’s tweet, Mr. Silver took a stronger stance Tuesday, saying “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.”

In their letter, the members of Congress noted that “NBA players have a rich history of speaking out on sensitive topics of social justice and human rights inside the United States, and the NBA takes pride in defending their right to do so.”

“Yet while it is easy to defend freedom of speech when it costs you nothing, equivocating when profits are at stake is a betrayal of fundamental American values,” the letter said.

The letter also urged the league to clarify its commitment to free speech, and that “public commentary on international human rights repression—including in Tibet, Hong Kong, and Xinjiang—falls within expected standards of public behavior and expression.”

In addition to Mr. Cruz and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, the members of Congress signing the letter are Sens. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican; Ben Sasse, Nebraska Republican; Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat; and Reps. Jim Banks, Indiana Republican; Mike Gallagher, Wisconsin Republican, and Tom Malinowski, New Jersey Democrat.

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