Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., told the “Todd Starnes Show” on Wednesday that she is troubled by the NBA’s relationship with China and questioned how the league could miss allegations of abuse at training facilities in the country.
Blackburn said it is vitally important to expose what is taking place in China and the persecution of the Uighurs, the Muslim minority in the county’s northwestern region. She also pointed to Beijing’s crackdown on Hong Kong and its aggressive posture against Taiwan.
She said one of the challenges when dealing with China is the number of businesses that refuse to hold the country accountable despite widespread human rights abuses. She said there is no greater example than the social-justice warriors in the NBA.
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She penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal last week that highlighted an ESPN report that alleged abuse at one of the league’s facilities in Xinjiang, which for the most part seemed to remain a secret until the report.
The ESPN report that was published last month claimed that young attendees in NBA training facilities in China were subject to beatings and other forms of abuse. The report, citing an unnamed former league employee, described the conditions at a complex as “World War II Germany.”
“The NBA’s posture in Xinjiang sent a strong message to the Chinese Communist Party: For the right price, anything is up for debate—even the value of human life,” she wrote.
Critics of the league say that players are quick to speak out against police violence in the U.S., but when confronted about China they seem to lose their moxie.
Blackburn said that she has interacted with the NBA about the training facility but the league has not been transparent and seemed to contradict itself when she
“The fact that the NBA kept that training facility open; the fact that I wrote them about it and they said, ‘We closed that in the spring of 2019.’ But then we found out in the ESPN report that they were still recruiting coaches in the summer of 2019 and didn’t close the facility until the fall of 2019.”
Blackburn said she wants to determine if the NBA was knowingly tolerating the abuse that was allegedly taking place at the facility.
Mark Tatum, the NBA deputy commissioner and chief operating officer, told Fox News at the time that “The NBA has had no involvement with the Xinjiang basketball academy for more than a year, and the relationship has been terminated.”
He told the network that the league is “re-evaluating the NBA Academy program in China,” calling the allegations from ESPN’s report “disturbing.”