Sports Diplomacy at its Tipping Point: Can NBA China Survive a Culture Clash over Free Speech Norms?

33 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2020

See all articles by Marc Edelman

Marc Edelman

City University of New York - Baruch College, Zicklin School of Business; Fordham University School of Law

Date Written: August 19, 2020

Abstract

For the past twelve years, the Chinese government has been an active participant in the joint venture of NBA China — a business venture that has allowed the National Basketball Association to host exhibition basketball games in the People’s Republic of China (“China”), broadcast basketball games on Chinese television networks, and operate a Chinese-approved Internet website. Nevertheless, the future of the NBA China joint venture was called into doubt last year when an NBA team employee, on his personal Twitter account, shared an image bearing the caption “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong” — a message that both the Chinese and Hong Kong governments regard as supporting a civil insurrection.

This article explores the future of sports diplomacy between the U.S. and China in the aftermath of this October 2019 conflict over an NBA employee’s tweets about the Hong Kong protest movement. This topic is important not only to the study of freedom of speech, but also to the generalized study of political relations between the U.S. and China and the role that sports diplomacy plays in improving international relations between these two countries. Thus, any potential demise in collaboration between Chinese and American citizens in the realm of sports business could mark further separation, if not isolation, of these two countries within their respective spheres of influence.

Keywords: Twitter, People’s Republic of China, Comparative Law, International Law, Employment Law, Hong Kong, Dipomacy, Sports Law, First Amendment, Freedom of Speech, China, Free Speech, NBA, National Basketball Association

JEL Classification: F68, F66, F54, F51, F5, F2, F1, Z1,K00, K12, K13, K2, K3, K31, K33, K4, Z18, Z2, Z22, Z38, J44, J48

Suggested Citation

Edelman, Marc, Sports Diplomacy at its Tipping Point: Can NBA China Survive a Culture Clash over Free Speech Norms? (August 19, 2020). Connecticut Law Review, Vol. 53(4), Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3677407 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3677407

Marc Edelman (Contact Author)

City University of New York - Baruch College, Zicklin School of Business ( email )

One Bernard Baruch Way
Box B9-220
New York, NY 10010
United States

Fordham University School of Law ( email )

140 West 62nd Street
New York, NY 10023
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