Kanter calls out Nets owner Tsai for supporting Chinese government
Born in Taiwan, the 57-year-old Tsai is the co-founder of the Chinese technology firm Alibaba Group. Tsai also owns the WNBA's New York Liberty and Barclays Center itself. Forbes estimates his net worth at $8.9 billion.
Through the first month of the 2021-22 season, Kanter has used his social media accounts, media interviews, and a series of customized sneakers to highlight what he considers the unjust treatment of people in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Tibet, as well as the Uyghurs of Xinjiang, at the hands of China's government.
In recent weeks, targets of Kanter's messages and demonstrations have included: U.S. President Joe Biden; Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James; apparel manufacturer Nike and its founder Phil Knight; the International Olympic Committee, which is set to host the upcoming Olympics in Beijing this winter; and, above all, Xi Jinping, the general secretary of the CCP and China's president.
Since Tsai acquired full control of the Nets in September 2019, he has at times voiced his unequivocal support for Chinese sovereignty.
After then-Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong in 2019, Tsai denounced the demonstrations as "a separatist movement" in a statement on Facebook.
"The one thing that is terribly misunderstood, and often ignored, by the Western press and those critical of China is that 1.4 billion Chinese citizens stand united when it comes to the territorial integrity of China and the country's sovereignty over her homeland," Tsai argued. "This issue is non-negotiable."
Tsai concluded: "I ask that our Chinese fans keep the faith in what the NBA and basketball can do to unite people from all over the world."
At the time of Tsai's statement, Facebook and a number of other Western social media platforms and news outlets were blocked in mainland China due to national censorship policies. Facebook remains largely inaccessible there today.