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U.S. senator sends letter to Adam Silver about NBA’s relationship with China

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A U.S. Senator is demanding answers from NBA commissioner Adam Silver on his league’s relationship with China.

In a letter sent Tuesday to Silver, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) expressed “concern” over the NBA’s dealings with a country governed by a Communist regime that has abused human rights, squashed pro-democracy protests and hidden details on the coronavirus outbreak. Sports Illustrated obtained a copy of the two-page letter.

Blackburn is giving Silver a July 21 deadline to respond to three questions she poses at the letter’s end regarding China Central Television’s ban on NBA games, the league’s relationship with Chinese state-owned enterprise Alibaba and the league’s training center in the controversial region of Xinjiang. The relationship between China and the United States is at a “pivotal moment,” she writes, and it could eventually lead to a new Cold War.

While commending Silver’s prudent decision in March to suspend the NBA season, Blackburn believes that details on its relationship with China are “imperative” as the league reconvenes. “While the NBA has worked hard to raise awareness of social issues at home, there is concern that the league has turned a blind eye to human rights abuses committed abroad—even bowing down to pressure last year,” the letter says. “The actions of the NBA and some players have created an appearance that your league prioritizes profit over principle.”

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