China’s Stronghold on American Businesses


Kent Imperial, Staff Writer

The on-going crisis between the Chinese government and Hong Kong has American corporations questioning which two things are more valuable: profit or democracy?

The protests in Hong Kong stem from an extradition bill proposed in February 2019. The bill proposed would allow China, Macau, and Taiwan to extradite fugitives from Hong Kong. As the fugitive would no longer be in Hong Kong’s jurisdiction they would be subject to that respective country’s legal system. One concern of those opposing the extradition bill is that the bill puts Hong Kong citizens at risk of being subject to the unjust legal system of mainland China. Another concern is that political activists in Hong Kong may be subject to extradition for speaking out against the mainland. Because Hong Kong’s government operates independently from China, citizens enjoy freedoms such as freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, unlike those in the mainland.

According to the US Census Bureau, China is the most populated country in the world with nearly 1.4 billion residents. With such a large population, it’s no wonder China is seen as a huge market for American businesses. Major US companies such as Apple, Disney, Walmart, and countless more conduct business in China.

The question of “money vs. humanity” in regards to American businesses came to the forefront when Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey wrote a pro-Hong Kong tweet that read, “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong,” on October 4. The tweet was deleted quickly after it was sent.

Morey faced heavy criticism from the Chinese Basketball Association, who were one of the NBA’s biggest partners. Moreover, two of the Rockets’ other sponsors, Li-Ning, a Chinese sportswear brand, and Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, have suspended their partnership with the organization, according to a former Rockets reporter. Despite this controversy, NBA commissioner Adam Silver opted not to take action against Morey.

Blizzard Entertainment, a gaming development company based in Irvine, CA, decided to heavily punish one of its’ professional Hearthstone players for speaking out against China earlier this month. Chung “Blitzchung” Ng Wai ended his stream by showing his support for those protesting in Hong Kong, stating, “Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our age!” which Blizzard deemed was a violation of its Grandmasters competition rules. The rules state:

p.12, Section 6.1

Engaging in any act that, in Blizzard’s sole discretion, brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image will result in removal from Grandmasters and reduction of the player’s prize total to $0 USD, in addition to other remedies which may be provided for under the Handbook and Blizzard’s Website Terms.

Blizzard removed Blitzchung from the Grandmasters tournament, suspended him from competition for one year, and withheld his competition prize money. On October 12, following heavy criticism by fans and the public, Blizzard reinstated Blitzchung and awarded him his earnings. However, he is still suspended from competing for six months. Blizzard is partially owned by the Chinese company, Tencent, which also owns Riot Games and partially owns other major American gaming companies Epic Games, Ubisoft, and Activision.

Apple is the latest company to face the Hong Kong-China crisis. On October 8, Apple decided to remove the app “” from its app store, an app used by Hong Kong protesters to track the location of protesters and police via crowdsourcing. US politicians, ranging from Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez of the Democratic party to Ted Cruz of the Republican party, urged Apple CEO Tim Cook in a letter to reverse his decision to remove the app and “demonstrate that Apple puts values above market access, and to stand with the brave men and women fighting for basic rights and dignity in Hong Kong.”

With China being a key partner in many American businesses, companies are facing a choice whether to support China and keep their income flowing, or support Hong Kong and lose profit.

The protests in Hong Kong over the extradition bill and their right to remain autonomous continue to escalate.

According to the South China Morning Post, more than 23,000 students, alumni, and teachers across 90 Hong Kong schools signed a petition against the extradition bill, including Chief Executive of China Carrie Lam’s alma mater, St. Francis Canossian College.