Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Yao Ming invites strong China critic Enes Kanter to visit



Yao Ming invites strong China critic Enes Kanter to visit

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Former NBA basketball star Yao Ming of China answers questions during a press conference in Beijing on Monday ahead of the start of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics on February 4. AFP

Yao Ming invites strong China critic Enes Kanter to visit

Former basketball star Yao Ming on Monday invited staunch Beijing critic Enes Kanter Freedom to visit China after the Boston Celtics player urged athletes to boycott the Winter Olympics in the capital.

Kanter has emerged as one of China’s most vocal critics in the sporting world, a rare athlete willing to forgo lucrative endorsements to speak on issues such as Beijing’s treatment of its Uighur Muslim and Tibetan minorities.

He has repeatedly spoken out on social media and been a guest on Western news shows as the Olympics nears.

In recent interviews he has accused China of using “money to buy silence” and called on other athletes “to pick morals over money”.

He also said the diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Games by the US, Britain and Australia was “good, but not enough”.

Yao, China’s most famous basketball star and one of its Olympic bid ambassadors, was asked about Kanter’s politics at a press gathering in Beijing on Monday.

“I’ve heard of him, but I can’t really judge him because I don’t know him,” the retired Houston Rockets player and current president of the China Basketball Association said.

“If there is an opportunity, I would like to invite him to visit China . . . Then he may have a more comprehensive understanding of us.”

Chinese officials have previously invited foreign journalists and diplomats to take part in state-arranged tours to Xinjiang to counter claims by human rights groups and Washington that a genocide is being carried out against Uighurs and other Turkic minorities, including forced labour in factories and internment camps where detainees have allegedly suffered torture and sexual abuse.

But foreign reporters regularly encounter interference, surveillance and even detention by police and unidentified individuals while attempting to report from the ground in Xinjiang.

Kanter was raised in Turkey where the plight of China’s Uighurs is closely followed. He is also a vocal critic of Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

He added “Freedom” to his name late last year when he gained US citizenship.

China suspended domestic broadcasts of NBA games for a year after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted in support of Hong Kong democracy protesters in 2019. The country is by far the NBA’s largest overseas market.

More recently, the Women’s Tennis Association suspended all its China tournaments over concerns about the safety of Chinese player Peng Shuai, who accused a former Communist Party leader of sexual assault.

MOST VIEWED

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with

  • PM takes time to meet, greet Cambodians living in the US

    After landing in the US ahead of the ASEAN-US Special Summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen was received by over 1,000 Cambodian-Americans including political analysts who welcomed him with greetings, fist bumps and selfies. Hun Sen also met with analyst Mak Hoeun, who had allegedly spoken ill

  • Khmer cinema classics back on big screen for free at WB Arena’s outdoor movies series

    On a recent Saturday evening at WB Arena, Bunsong was enjoying a tasty BBQ meal with his family after work on the long tables that had been arranged out in front of the restaurant as they watched a Khmer action movie on a big outdoor

  • PM heads to Washington for ASEAN-US special summit

    Regional and international issues and how to bring the ASEAN-US partnership to another level will be discussed at length as Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ministers arrive in Washington, DC, for a special summit on May 12-13. During the trip, Hun Sen and ASEAN

  • National Assembly refutes EU resolution

    The National Assembly (NA) has hit back at a European Parliament resolution condemning the political and human rights situation in Cambodia, calling it another display of the Parliament’s “double standards”. Key points of the resolution include a warning that the Parliament could exclude the