NASHVILLE, Tennessee — Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview last week that the National Basketball Association (NBA) is “in bed with” the Chinese Communist Party.
Blackburn’s interview came in the wake of the NBA admitting that it had closed a training facility it operated inside the borders of the Chinese communist regime in Xinjiang. The admission that it had closed the facility came in response to Blackburn’s pressure on NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
“We were pleased to get the notification that they had closed that training facility there in Xinjiang,” Blackburn said. “The interesting thing about this is you’ll notice not any of the mainstream media covered it. We got a little bit of attention on ESPN and Sports Illustrated but it’s like the mainstream media is not interested in hearing that story. I guess we’re not surprised about that. I had written Adam Silver because the NBA has this very close relationship with Alibaba and products that are manufactured in China and they benefit, financially benefit, in tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars by that relationship and their programming rights and merchandising. They should, if they’re going to be so concerned here, why are they not concerned about over there?”
Blackburn has since, this week, come out and called the NBA a new name: The “National Beijing Association.” This is because of deeper ties Blackburn is probing between the NBA and China, including its close relationship with Chinese mega-retailer Alibaba — which has close ties to the Chinese Communist Party.
When you’re doing business in China, you’re working with the Chinese Communist Party. The @NBA is closely tied to China TV and to Alibaba. In about ten years you’re going to see them be the ‘National Beijing Association. pic.twitter.com/JJkFJBNp9H
— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) July 29, 2020
ESPN has also since published an investigation of its own backing up Blackburn’s efforts and efforts by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) to expose Chinese influence inside the NBA.
In it, ESPN uncovered serious issues with regard to the NBA’s associations with China:
Even though the NBA now says it had left Xinjiang in the spring of 2019, the league did not respond to the letter. The Xinjiang academy webpage disappeared soon after.
Last week, in response to Sen. Blackburn of Tennessee, the league wrote, “The NBA has had no involvement with the Xinjiang basketball academy for more than a year, and the relationship has been terminated.”
Later in the piece, ESPN revealed that it appears the NBA was misleading Sen. Blackburn’s office. “Two sources disputed that the NBA had any plans to leave Xinjiang in the spring of 2019. One coach said the league was still seeking other coaches to move there well into the summer and that the league’s statement to Blackburn was ‘completely inaccurate,’” ESPN’s Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada wrote.
But this issue is much broader than just the NBA’s training camp in Xinjiang. In her interview with Breitbart News, Blackburn made the case that being “in bed with” Alibaba means that the NBA is “in bed with” the Chinese Communist Party.
“Why do they continue to manufacture with slave labor and child labor? Why are they not saying we’re going to write on the basketball court ‘Free Hong Kong’ or ‘Free The Uyghurs,’” Blackburn told Breitbart News. “And, they are against any of that and I just think that they’re inconsistent in their support of human rights; they’re inconsistent when it comes to transparency about what their relationships are with these companies like Alibaba because when you’re in bed with Alibaba you’re in bed with the Chinese Communist Party. They should admit this. They should say this is what we’re doing to change this relationship and to protect the Uyghurs and to be sure slave labor is not being used. This is what we’re doing to support the freedom fighters over in Hong Kong. Or how about doing some work with Taiwan for goodness sake if they want to stay in that region of the world? So, let’s have them be a little bit more transparent about this.”