Revenue over Rights



Supporters of Hong Kong protesting the Brooklyn Nets NBA game.

Kobi Khong, Photojournalist

Riots broke out in Hong Kong in March of this year and, 204 days later, protests are still continuing throughout the region. The initial source of the protesters’ anger was indignation towards the Hong Kong extradition bill pushed by Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, in March 2019 his bill titled the “Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation Amendment” allowed China to arrest voices of political dissent in Hong Kong, which many believed to violate the human rights of the people.

However over the course of the past few months, the rallying cry of the protests has shifted towards something much greater– a call for independence and democracy. Everyone from students as young as 16 years old have taken to the streets to raise their objections towards the oppression of the Chinese government, with estimates ranging to nearly 2 million attendees at a Free Hong Kong rally. 

Although the goals of the protesters vary, as they have chosen to unify under democracy than a single leader, five demands have emerged from Hong Kong: a withdrawal of the extradition bill, a resignation from Carrie Lam, an inquiry into the acts of police brutality, a pardoning of those arrested, and more freedoms within their democracy.

Violence, however, has become common, as police have started unbridled attacks upon the protestors. These include using live ammo as well as facial recognition software to track down the demonstrators. In return, the protestors have taken to using masks as a symbol against persecution and writing goodbye notes for their families, knowing that the likelihood of them returning grows slimmer every day.

Yet, despite these human rights crimes, corporations within America have turned a blind eye. On October 4, 2019, Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, tweeted an image supporting Hong Kong alongside the caption “fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.” In a blizzard of controversy soon following, the Chinese government suspended its ties with the NBA and threatened to ban the league’s programming within the country, and the NBA sided with its Chinese market over the freedom of speech of its employees. However, the NBA isn’t the only corporation that has submitted to the will of China. Activision Blizzard, became the focus of backlash after it punished Chung ‘Blitzchung’ Ng Wai, the winner of Blizzard’s ESports Hearthstone League after he rallied for the democracy of Hong Kong in a post-game interview.

People from all over the world have called out the corporations for their financial greed, even going as far as a bipartisan letter supported by people across the political spectrum from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Marco Rubio condemning Blizzard for their actions. Lauren Schatzman (12) when asked for her opinion on the matter said “That’s disappointing, but it shows what fear and money and power can do.”

In the end, as people continue to fight for their basic rights democracy halfway around the world, the decision made by the companies regarding revenue over rights is clear, but it is up to the public to hold corporations accountable for their choices.