Monday , February 17 2020

NBA loses more sponsors as China flexes economic muscle


China is flexing its economic muscle for political ends, with more local sponsors of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) mainland events suspending their ties with the league over a tweet that backed Hong Kong’s protesters.
Following the decision by China’s state television and tech giant Tencent Holdings Ltd to not show pre-season NBA games, the country’s largest sportswear maker and the second-biggest dairy firm joined in distancing themselves from the US organisation. Smartphone maker Vivo said it was pulling out, while Master Kong, a maker of instant noodles and beverages, said it ended all NBA-linked marketing activities.
In the latest China controversy involving the NBA, Beijing is resorting to a time-tested strategy of targeting businesses it deems to challenge its political interests — especially those questioning its sovereignty over certain territories. The furor, triggered by tweet by an official with the Houston Rockets, has imperiled the NBA in a multibillion-dollar market.
“Beijing takes a zero-tolerance attitude to any perceived foreign interference in its internal affairs,” said Hugo Brennan, principal Asia analyst at global risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft.

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