In recent months, I’ve stopped playing Overwatch, a Blizzard game, due to its treatment of Chung Ng Wai, a Hearthstone champion, showing support for the democratic protesters of Hong Kong. Blizzard later claimed that their suspension and refusing to pay his prize money had nothing to do with their relationship with the Chinese government or market, but I don’t think anyone is actually buying that. I’ve also canceled two subscriptions with Apple, who backstabbed those same Hong Kong protesters by pulling an app that they were using to avoid the violent and oppressive police police. The NBA has also run afoul of this, by kowtowing to the Chinese government so as to not lose any revenue for that market.
I refuse to spend what little money I have with companies that play ball with a government that is oppressing movements of the people towards freedom and liberty.
Any American knows the unfortunate reality that money is power and money is influence. Chinese investments have been making enormous inroads into American business, which isn’t inherently bad. Good trading partners are good neighbors. However, when the Chinese government becomes oppressive to a Hong Kong that wants to be free from a promise the British made to China a quarter century ago, and, in my opinion, far more importantly, is the oppression of the Uighur people in western China.
Tencent is a company that has partial ownership of several notable companies, such as Blizzard, Telsa Motors, Glu Mobile (which makes or publishes a ton of mobile games for iOS and Android), and Snap, of SnapChat. If you happened to have seen the impressive Tom Hanks movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, you’ll have seen the opening video marking that it came from Tencent Pictures. Tencent, as all large Chinese companies who want to continue to do business in China, are far more beholden to the desires of the single party government than companies in the United States. If it just so happened that Fred Rogers had some opinions about the Tiananmen Square massacre, you can be certain that the Chinese government would pressure Tencent to pressure the production of that movie to omit those opinions.
A current, and interesting, and complicated story with a bit of he-said-she-said, is a TikTok user who disguised a call to attention for the treatment of the Uighurs as a make up tutorial, specifically disguised to circumvent censorship that she expected - and got. (Xeni Jardin’s take for boingboing) TikTok claims that Feroza Aziz’s accounts had been disrupted because of an unrelated video that briefly showed Osama bin Laden as a violation of “terrorism” rules on the platform. She doesn’t believe that and it appears that most people commenting on this don’t either.
- BBC: Feroza Aziz: I’m not scared of TikTok
- recode: TikTok is accused of censoring anti-Chinese government content, again
- BBC: TikTok apologises and reinstates banned US teen
Fortunately, some of the United States’ lawmakers are, correctly, risking trade loss with China by passing resolutions in response to the treatment of Hong Kong’s protesters and the Uighur people.
- BBC: Hong Kong protests: US lawmakers pass Human Rights and Democracy Act
- BBC: China sanctions: US House passes bill over treatment of Uighurs
I love the people of China and the rich, ancient culture, but her government?