As the anti-China protests carry on in Hong Kong, the world sits behind screens and watches. As shocked as we all are, nothing seems to be done. Well, nothing to help. It seems that there is an abundance of censorship by corporations which many assume is an attempt to keep in China’s good books; such corporate involvement in this issue is a disgrace.
Now, I’m a bit of a gamer, I love W.O.W. and its card game counterpart, Hearthstone. However, many people are boycotting the video gaming company Blizzard since it removed pro-player Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai from a Hearthstone tournament and all future events. His ban came after he showed support for the Hong Kong protests on October 6th. A video gaming platform should not be political and it shows the level of control China has over the corporations that benefit from Chinese money (a minority owner in Blizzard’s parent company is Tencent, a Chinese conglomerate).
However, this subjugation of free speech extends to other industries. Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted support for pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong. This prompted Chinese organizations to suspend relationships with the NBA and lead to criticism over the NBA’s hypocrisy with its traditional stance as “the most pro-free speech sports league” and outspoken figures like Steve Kerr and LeBron James also being silent due to pro-China interests. This led to prominent sports talk show host and boxing commentator Max Kellerman saying James was “selling out” and Hong Kong protestors burning his jerseys.
Furthermore, after Apple released new versions of iOS, users in Hong Kong noticed that the Taiwanese flag was no longer available as an emoji. Although China and Taiwan have been governed separately for decades, China maintains unification as its ultimate goal, illustrated by those in mainland China being unable to see this emoji too. It seems overly petty to have a country get so triggered over the existence of a Taiwanese flag emoji and the fact that this now applies to Hong Kong illustrates a relationship between Apple and China. This correlates with Apple removing the HKmap app, used by protestors to track police whereabouts and avoid disruption. Apple was previously slammed by China Daily, owned by the Communist Party of China, for enabling “rioters in Hong Kong to partake in violent acts”. However, HKmap’s creators say there is no evidence that the app has been used to target police or threaten public safety.
China seems to have the corporations of the world wrapped around its finger. The start of stunting this control is about awareness. Be aware of the companies submitting to China; if you can, boycott them. Make them suffer for their lack of humanity. Company growth is not a reason for anti-free speech rhetoric and each company CEO should bow their heads in shame.
With tighter regulation and rules on the Chinese government within company policy, scenarios like these would never have happened. Too long have China been allowed to prescribe their totalitarian notion outside of their country and only through our awareness and our protest may we begin to start combating it.