Corporations Tiptoe around Hong Kong


Starting in late March and continuing in the present, the citizens of Hong Kong have been peacefully protesting China’s attempts to gain further political control over the territory. As these months long protests for sovereignty continue, vocal activist support for the movement has faced increasing resistance from global corporations.

This censorship gained public transaction after Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support for protesting citizens. In response to this, the Chinese Basketball Association, which the NBA has been building business ties with, threatened that they would cease cooperation with the Rockets. This initial response was backed by a further threat from China’s consulate general who stated that the team should “clarify and immediately correct the mistakes.” Following these two threats, Morey deleted his tweet and the NBA issued an apology claiming that these statements “deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China.” As of now, the NBA has withdrawn its policy of censorship after intense criticism, but they are not the only company giving into China’s censorship demands.

Other examples of this corporate censorship include tech conglomerate Apple choosing to remove an app that protesters used to track police movements and Vans’ choice to remove a shoe design from their Custom Culture competition due to its depiction of protesters. In response to this mass corporate censorship, pro Hong Kong activists are calling for both a boycott of these companies and a unique form of protest.

After media company Activision Blizzard suspended professional Hearthstone player Chung ‘blitzchung’ Ng Wai for his vocal support of the pro-democracy protests, fans began a campaign to get one of the companies IP’s banned in China. Activists have recently been circulating edited images of the Overwatch character Mei wearing protestor slogans. Activists are hoping that these critical images will cause the Chinese government to ban the company altogether. Whether or not this strategy will work remains to be seen. As of now, fan outcry has caused Blizzard to shorten the ban it has imposed on blitzchung from a year to six months, but it has yet to reinstate two commentators who were fired after interviewing blitzchung. If you want to support the boycotts currently occurring, ad blocker friendly lists of companies supporting China can be found on the tech news site Mashable.