A Chinese basketball fan has been detained by cops just hours after showing support for under-fire NBA Rockets executive Daryl Morey for showing solidarity with the Hong Kong protesters.
The fan also allegedly threatened to burn a Chinese flag and used the words: “Come arrest me.”
Howard Wang, 25, made the bold stand on Chinese Twitter-like social media platform Weibo in a post at 9:29pm local time on 6th October.
But authorities in Liaoyuan in China’s north-eastern province of Liaoning shared a picture showing Wang in custody just over four hours later at 2am the following morning.
Wang’s Weibo post, which has since been deleted along with all of his post history, showed him wearing a Houston Rockets top while holding a lighter next to the Chinese flag.
It had included hashtags reading “I die with my team” and “Come arrest me”, and appeared to be aimed at supporting under-fire Rockets executive Daryl Morey.
The post by Liaoyuan cyber police, which has been liked nearly 200,000 times, said Wang had been detained for insulting the Chinese flag.
Morey, 47, who is the general manager of the Rockets, kicked up a storm in mainland China after tweeting an image bearing the words “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”
He later deleted the post and issued a two-tweet apology, but the statement had already led to instant – and severe – consequences and threats from major Chinese sponsors.
Chinese state broadcaster CCTV and Tencent Holdings both announced it would not be airing any Houston Rockets games, instantly cutting off hundreds of millions of Chinese fans from arguably the most widely followed NBA team in mainland China.
The National Basketball Association has sought to distance itself from Morey’s tweet and appease Chinese fans by calling the executive’s statement “regrettable”.
But this has led to a backlash from supporters and high-profile politicians in the US who see the league as kowtowing to Beijing.
The popularity of the Houston Rockets is thanks to Chinese basketball legend Yao Ming, who joined the Texas team in 2002 until his retirement in 2011.
Yao has been chairman of the Chinese Basketball Association since February 2017.
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