Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, commended Taiwan’s stand against “Chinese communist oppression,” in a video tweeted Thursday, as multiple controversies have swirled around U.S. companies allegedly acquiescing to China’s restrictive speech rules.
Standing in Taiwan’s “Liberty Square,” Cruz congratulated the Taiwanese people on their national day, known as “Double 10 Day,” and extolled the relationship between the United States and Taiwan. Cruz has been traveling in Asia this week; he visited Japan on Wednesday.
“I’m here in Taiwan in Chaing Kai-shek square, also known as Liberty Square, celebrating the people of Taiwan who stand up against Chinese communist oppression and stand up for freedom,” he said. “America is proud to be allies with the people of Taiwan.”
Taiwan, which has fought to assert its independence but which China has claimed as its own, has formal diplomatic relations with only 15 countries.
Cruz, along with several other lawmakers including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., sent a letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on Wednesday expressing “deep concern” over the league’s deference to China after Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted in support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
“The NBA’s initial statement, and pressure placed on Mr. Morey to back away from his statement, has not only sold out an American citizen,” the letter said. “It reinforces the Chinese Communist Party view that those who point to Chinese repression in Hong Kong are at best stating opinions, not facts, and that the official Chinese government view deserves equal respect.”
Recent pro-democracy protests rebelling against Beijing’s perceived interference in Hong Kong’s independence have gained attention around the world.
After the lawmakers’ letter, however, the NBA drew more China-related ire Wednesday night after workers confiscated signs supporting Hong Kong at a Washington Wizards game in Washington, D.C. At least one sign read “Google Uyghurs” — a Muslim ethnic group with between one and five million members in Chinese government concentration camps. A team spokesman said the displays violated the arena’s longstanding policy on signs, banners and posters.
In addition, on Thursday, a Houston Rockets employee told a CNN reporter that players James Harden and Russell Westbrook would not answer her question about how they would approach speaking out on politics after the Morey controversy. The league later apologized.
Yet more Chinese censorship-related controversies have raged in the U.S.
Activision-Blizzard, a U.S.-based video game company, is coming under fire after it made an E-sports player forfeit $10,000 in prize money and banned him from the game Hearthstone E-sports for a year after he made pro-Hong Kong comments on a broadcast. Company executives said he violated a tournament rule preventing players from engaging in any act that “brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image.”
Comedy Central cartoon “South Park,” in contrast, fired up a profane response to its recent ban in China for an episode last week bashing the government’s censorship of American media and treatment of its citizens. In the episode, characters Towlie and Randy shouted, “F— the Chinese Government!” after Towlie taught Randy about the country’s human rights abuses.