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Sen. Cruz: We Shouldn’t Have American Sports Leagues, Companies, or Hollywood Acting as the Censors for Totalitarian Regimes

Highlights USA Today op-ed on Fox Business Network’s ‘Mornings with Maria’

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Judiciary Committees, today in his first TV interview since his ‘Friends & Allies Tour' of the Indo-Pacific appeared on Fox Business Network's ‘Mornings with Maria.' There, he discussed his op-ed in USA Today urging American companies, including the NBA, Nike, Apple, and Google, to stop importing the Chinese Communist Party's censorship and oppression to the United States.

In discussing the human rights abuses the Chinese Communist Party commits against its citizens, Sen. Cruz noted the critical role U.S. companies have in standing up for American values and not importing the values of censorship and totalitarianism:

"The trade we have with China is important. One of the big arguments when we opened up that trade to begin with [in] China was we said well, if we engage in commerce with China we'll export our values, we'll bring the values of freedom and democracy to China. We need to make sure that we are not importing their values - the values of censorship and totalitarianism."

He continued:

"And I understand, it's a whole lot of money. I mean that led to the rather sad moment last week where you had LeBron James going out and defending the Chinese Communists. [...] Look the only thing that the NBA is understanding right now is they want to make a lot of bucks by selling a lot of sneakers. But, you know, China routinely tortures and murders its citizens. There are hundreds of thousands - nearly a million Uighurs - Muslims in China, who are imprisoned in concentration camps. You look at what they're doing to Tibet. And by the way, China won't even allow you to say the word Tibet, they're so terrified of the people in Tibet who want freedom. You know it's so bad that the movie Dr. Strange, they changed the Ancient One, which in the comic book is Tibetan, they changed him instead to Keltic because they didn't want to offend the Chinese Communist government. We shouldn't have Hollywood acting as the censors for totalitarian regimes."

When asked about his visit to Hong Kong during his ‘Friends & Allies Tour,' Sen. Cruz described the threat China poses to the region:

"I went to Japan, I went to Taiwan, I went to India, and then I went to Hong Kong. [...] Each of those are countries we have strong alliances with, and each of them are dealing very directly with Chinese increased military aggressiveness, economic aggressiveness. Hong Kong in particular, what is happening in Hong Kong is incredible. I mean we've seen over two million people come to the streets protesting. Protesting for freedom, protesting for democracy, and it's amazing to see them holding up quotes from the American Founding Fathers. The people of Hong Kong, they've enjoyed economic prosperity when they were part of Great Britain, and when they returned to China, China entered an international treaty commitment to protect their autonomy, to protect their political rights, and right now the Chinese government is trying to stomp them under foot. I will tell you everyone else in the region is watching very carefully, what happens in [Hong Kong]."

When asked how the United States can support the Hong Kong protesters, he highlighted the bipartisan Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act and urged his colleagues to vote for it this week:

"Well I'm a cosponsor of the Human Rights and Democracy Act. Just a few weeks ago the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on when I serve, we unanimously passed the bill, the bipartisan bill - every Democrat, every Republican came together and passed it. I hope that the Senate takes [it] up soon ideally this week, the Human Rights Democracy Act that we pass it, and we pass into it law, because it's powerful to stand with the protesters in Hong Kong and to say the American people support you, support freedom."

He also described his visit with the Hong Kong protesters, and encouraged them to remain nonviolent:

"When I was in Hong Kong I got a chance to sit down with a number of the protest leaders and democracy activists and encourage them, and say look, the eyes of the world are on you. And one of the things I encouraged them also, I said follow the pattern of Gandhi, of Dr. Martin Luther King, follow the pattern of nonviolence. The Chinese government wants to turn these into violent clashes, because that's how they delegitimize you. And so use the power of the values you're fighting for to command the attention of the world, and I hope that's the path they continue to go down."

Watch Sen. Cruz's full interview with Maria Bartiromo here. Read Sen. Cruz's full op-ed in USA Today here and below:

Cruz to NBA: Don't pander to China's brutal Communist Party, stand up for US free speech
USA Today
October 22, 2019
By: Sen. Cruz

Jackie Robinson did more than take first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. As Americans across the country tuned into their favorite pastime, Robinson took a stand for freedom. His bravery, courage and tremendous natural talent allowed him to pave the way for a cultural revolution and the integration of all Americans, regardless of color or creed.

Whether it's baseball in America, cricket in India or rugby in New Zealand, sports teams are influential in forming the identity of a nation and direction of a culture.

In a country where citizens are routinely censored, surveilled and oppressed, and hundreds of thousands of Uighurs are persecuted and detained, basketball is one of the last remnants of American influence in China from before its 1949 communist revolution. That's why lawmakers from both parties, Americans across the country, and people around the world were deeply concerned by the NBA's initial statement of regret in the face of Chinese government disapproval and pressure after an American citizen's exercise of free speech this month.

According to the league, 800 million people in China watched NBA programming last year alone. As the most influential sports league in China, the NBA has the opportunity to stand for freedom with the poise and courage of Robinson. Instead, the NBA is choosing to pander to the brutal and oppressive Communist Party in China, putting American values aside for multibillion dollar deals.

To recap, this all started with a single tweet from Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, who signaled support for peaceful, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. This one tweet ("Fight for Freedom, Stand with Hong Kong") was enough to send the Chinese Communist Party into a tailspin. Out of fear of losing its five-year, $1.5 billion broadcasting contract with Tencent, a tool of the Chinese government, the NBA and its athletes backpedaled and began profusely apologizing.

Morey's tweet is just one example of how far the Chinese Communist Party will go to advance its authoritarian regime and silence anyone daring to speak against Chinese oppression and for freedom. The party is increasingly relying on its military to bully its neighbors and threaten American interests. It uses economic and diplomatic coercion to blackmail poor nations, leaving our allies isolated and undermined. And despite the massive peaceful demonstrations by protesters and a commitment memorialized in law to protect Hong Kong's autonomy, the Chinese Communist Party continues to blatantly ignore the democratic will of the people - oppressing free speech and trampling basic human rights.

The same week the NBA bowed to pressure from the Chinese Communist Party, I traveled to Tokyo, Taipei, New Delhi and Hong Kong, where I saw firsthand the geopolitical threat China poses to our friends and allies in the region.

In Japan, I met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and senior members of the Japanese government, and we discussed the effect of China's aggressive military expansionism and the important role of the U.S. partnership - both militarily, with the Texas-manufactured F-35 fighter craft, and economically, with our recently signed trade agreement.

In Tapei, President Tsai Ing-wen, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and I discussed how China works overtime to isolate Taiwan and undercut its autonomy. I am a proud cosponsor of the bipartisan TAIPEI Act, which underscores America's support for the people of Taiwan and commits to standing against China's efforts to undermine Taiwan. As China's threats intensify, the United States must stand unflinchingly with the people of Taiwan.

In India, during my meetings with the defense minister and commerce secretary, we discussed how our military relationship and economic partnership stabilizes the region, as China seeks to use its military to bully and coerce its neighbors.

And in Hong Kong, where free enterprise abounds and per capita income is five times higher than in China, up to 2 million protesters have taken to the streets to fight for their freedom. Brave men and women, boys and girls are standing up demanding that the Chinese Communist Party protect Hong Kong's autonomy, protect free speech and defend human rights.

I am hopeful Congress will pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act and send it to President Donald Trump's desk to be signed into law. This bill specifically includes my bipartisan amendment to the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992. It will strengthen oversight over Hong Kong policy, in response to expanding moves by the Chinese Communist Party to exploit Hong Kong and circumvent the laws of the United States.

For too long, China has been allowed to carry out its tyrannical actions in the dark of night. The Chinese Communist Party has used coercion and blackmail to buy silence not just from the NBA, which receives billions of dollars from the country, but also from industry empires like Apple, Google and Nike.

I have long condemned U.S. companies that turn a blind eye to, and in some cases carry out, the Chinese Communist Party's censorship, oppression and human rights atrocities, and I will continue working with my colleagues to hold those companies accountable, and ensure that they are not importing Chinese oppression to the United States.

The American people expect more from the companies they trust and the sports leagues they cheer. American sports leagues and companies alike should embrace the courage of Jackie Robinson's legacy. They may just find themselves paving the way for a cultural revolution worth fighting for.