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A worker tears down a poster promoting an NBA game in Shanghai. A worker tears down a poster promoting a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets in Shanghai, China, Oct. 9, 2019 (Photo by Yu Zhongyue for Imaginechina via AP Images).

Can China Afford to Lose the NBA?

Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China.

Last Friday, Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, provoked a fierce backlash from China when he tweeted in support of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters. The since-deleted tweet led to a number of Chinese companies pausing their ties with the NBA, which initially expressed regret for the statement but has since offered a stronger defense of Morey’s statement. China is the NBA’s largest overseas market, so NBA officials have scrambled to contain the fallout. But the situation also presents a challenge to Beijing, as American basketball is immensely popular in China. ...

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