dribbles over pictures of President Xi Jinping
and Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
Bektas / Reuters
policy makers ignored the possibility
that China could transform the U.S.,
rather than the other way around...
China is "plastic" in the hands of "strong and capable Westerners," announced President Woodrow Wilson in 1914.
But from the beginning, Americans were also afraid that China - or the Chinese - would change them, too.
In 1870, following the Civil War, Congress limited naturalization to white people and black people. Later, the United States tried to inoculate itself against the influence of the Chinese by banning many of them from America's shores.
Starting with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the U.S. Congress passed a series of racist immigration laws which would not be significantly modified until World War II, when China was an ally in America's fight against Japan.
It looked bad for the U.S. to deny Chinese the right to travel in America while Chinese under American command were dying on Asian battlefields.
Fear of China in the United States was at a fever pitch in the years following the Korean War as Chinese were portrayed in American films, magazines, and books as possessing magical powers to brainwash average Americans.
U.S. economic and diplomatic sanctions on China were far more onerous than they were on the Soviet Union. After a while, the impracticability of such isolation became pretty obvious.
Even Frank Sinatra weighed in during an interview with Playboy magazine in 1963, calling for "Red China" to be given a seat in the United Nations.
In the 1970s, when the United States reopened its relations with China, the pendulum swung back again.
Americans reached into their toolkit and, surprise, pulled out the same tool they had used before:
On January 24, 1980, Congress granted most-favored-nation (MFN) trading status to the Communist regime, cutting tariffs on Chinese goods to the same rate offered to America's friends and allies.
MFN status had been reserved for countries with free-market economies and basic political and civil rights, including the right to emigrate.
In 1980, China met none
of these criteria.
Beijing deserved MFN status because, Americans were told, China was on an unstoppable march to a market economy with free and fair elections.
As Representative Bill Alexander, a Jimmy Carter supporter from Arkansas, told the House the day MFN status was approved,
This 'paternalistic' attitude that we could change China persisted, in its second instantiation, for about 40 years.
Significantly, this idea's evil twin - a fear of China changing us - became less pronounced. American certainty that influence ran down a one-way street appeared in statements from the National Security Council and the State Department, which, no matter the political party or administration, were littered with expressions such as "shaping" or "managing" China's rise.
This self-confidence loomed large in the debate over China's admittance to the World Trade Organization in 2001.
Robert Rubin, secretary of the Treasury under President Bill Clinton, told Congress that China's accession to the WTO would,
I heard this mantra,
...nonstop during the
decades I spent in China from American diplomats, positive that we
would turn China into a more liberal country, and blithe to
any worries that China could transform us.
Underlying the firestorm caused by one opinion from one guy in Houston is a broader worry that what America considered its historical mission in China - bringing free-ish markets that would lead to freer people - has failed...
But not only that...
When Morey sent out a tweet that included an image saying,
State-owned television and the Chinese internet giant Tencent suspended broadcasts of pre-season NBA games.
A slew of Chinese companies announced that they were putting sponsorships with the league on hold. China Central Television issued a statement calling for severe limits on freedom of speech.
And Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, suggested that he expected the NBA to follow the playbook of other corporations and kowtow.
The NBA's playbook mirrored that of other organizations that have gotten sidewise with Beijing.
This is a tried-and-true formula.
The Chinese language is the first level of encryption.
What's worse, other leading voices in the NBA sought to muddy Silver's message. The prominent NBA coaches Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr dodged questions on the issue.
Rockets stars James Harden and Russell Westbrook, who make a considerable amount of money in China through the sales of merchandise and shoes, announced on Twitter:
On Sunday, LeBron
James said he thought Morey wasn't "educated" on the situation.
Despite massive investments and the fact that the CBA is now led by former Rockets' star Yao Ming, the CBA is a joke, proffering bad basketball in arenas with no heat.
China's national team,
which is composed of CBA all-stars, might not even make it to the
2022 Tokyo Olympics after its dismal showing at the FIBA World Cup
over the summer.
Last Sunday, Activision Blizzard, an e-gaming company, banned a professional Hearthstone player from the game's lucrative pro league for a year and forced him to forfeit $10,000 after he said,
Chung Ng Wai, who uses the handle "Blitzchung," also donned a mask, which has become a symbol of the protests, before he was hustled from the podium.
(Blizzard later said it
would reduce the one-year suspension to a six-month one, and that it
would restore the prize money.)
makes a lot of money in China, where gaming has become a national
pastime for a generation of young men. Blizzard has a
partnership with the Chinese tech company NetEase, and
Tencent owns 5 percent of its parent company.
Corporate heavyweights such as,
...have all been targeted by either the Chinese Communist Party or by Chinese netizens for perceived slights.
And slight they were indeed.
Last week, Tiffany & Co. killed an ad that showed the Chinese model Sun Feifei wearing a Tiffany ring on her right hand, which covered her right eye.
claimed the advertisement could be interpreted as showing support
for Hong Kong's protesters, many of whom hide their faces with
masks. Go figure.
In March 2018, Marriott International fired a low-level social-media employee from Omaha after he "liked" a tweet about Tibet that offended the Chinese government.
In September, Cathay's
CEO, Rupert Hogg, resigned because China opposed how Cathay
had handled its employees who participated in demonstrations in Hong
The one big U.S. tech
company that has stayed in the China market has been LinkedIn; the
price has been aggressive censoring of speech.
Google's motto "Don't
Zhigang wrote reams on American shipbuilding, steel mills, microscopes, and printing presses. Zhigang also had an insight about the resilience of American values that his successors in Beijing understand today.
In America, he noted,
Or as the straight-shooting Jason Whitlock said on the Fox Sports show Speak for Yourself the other day,