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A letter to the head of the NBA

By Zhang Zhouxiang | China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-10-10 07:36

Dear Mr Adam Silver:

Thank you for your statements. They are clear enough, but we believe that you should reflect some more on the issues involved.

Over the last three decades, the NBA has gained enormous influence in China, and through basketball we have seen how sports can bridge the cultural differences between China and the US.

We are glad that you recognize that our two countries have different political systems and beliefs. As an institution with global business and influence, that recognition helps the NBA to deepen ties and promote understanding with different cultures.

But you still need a better understanding of China, a huge market for your organization. State sovereignty, national integrity, and national esteem, these are mainstream values in China, with the largest consensus among all Chinese people. They are also the core concepts recognized by the whole Chinese nation.

In history, Chinese civilization, like others, suffered from invasions and conquests from the outside, yet it is the only one that survived all the catastrophes. One of the most important reasons for this is Chinese people's sense of unity. Wherever a Chinese person goes, in whichever country or region he/she resides, love and passion for the motherland ties us together.

Those ties define the Chinese nation. We are open to the world and willing to learn from other civilizations. We welcome people regardless of race or religious belief. The Chinese nation is not based on blood, but on culture, on the recognition, love, and appreciation of our common home, China.

We respect freedom of speech, and we defend people's rights to speak even though we may not agree with their viewpoints. However, as in the United States or any other Western country, freedom of speech has its limitations: Discrimination against the vulnerable, prejudice based on color, race, or religion, and the so-called "defense" of certain figures that committed anti-human deeds in history might all lead to trouble, even criminal charges. For most Chinese, advocating carving up the nation is also taboo.

Basketball runs deep in the hearts and minds of our two peoples. At a time when the divides between nations are becoming deeper and wider, we hope sports can help to narrow these divides through mutual respect, instead of widening them via irresponsible words.

(China Daily Global 10/10/2019 page11)

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