Hong Kong protests challenge US business

Awab El Ghissassi

On October 4, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, Daryl Morey tweeted this:

However, less than one hour later, this happened.

Blizzard Entertainment had a similar situation. Hearthstone” pro gamer Chung Ng Wai (Blitzchung), Blizzard banned the player for 6 months and withheld all prize money after he shouted “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!” during a post game interview. Many people think that Tencent Holdings (Chinese company that owns 5% of Blizzard) forced Blizzard’s hand in the decision.

These are only two of many American entities giving in to pressure from The People’s Republic of China. That leaves the question: why is this happening?

First of all, why are these protests happening in the first place?

Hong Kong used to be a British colony, and until 1997 was not under Chinese rule. Even after that, Hong Kong enjoyed special freedoms not available in mainland China. Recently, Chinese president, Xi Jinping, has been cracking down on Hong Kong’s semi-autonomy. When a bill was proposed that would allow Beijing to extradite any Hong Kong citizens, people took to the streets.

China makes up ⅕ of the world’s population, and as a result is a huge source of revenue for companies. Losing that market would be disastrous, even if it means denouncing largely peaceful Hong Kong protesters just to please Beijing.

One of these companies caught up the debacle was Apple. The tech company recently took down HK Map Live, an app that shows where police and demonstrations are located. Although the app is still being used by protesters on Android and browsers, Apple received a wave of criticism about the decision.

Although the People’s Republic of China may not necessarily uphold the freedom of speech and protest, the power of the purse goes a long way. Unfortunately, as of now, American companies will be forced to cower to a communist power.

As protests are intensifying, more people are starting to notice. In theory, the U.S could pass a joint resolution sanctioning China for their treatment to Hong Kong. However, it must be noted that nations do not have friends; they have interests. As a result, Xi Jinping’s abuse of power will likely be left unchecked until a tragedy like the massacre at Tiananmen Square repeats itself.