I can’t think of a greater example of corporate greed than American companies siding with an anti-democratic government for fear of their pocketbook.
Apple and the NBA have already had to run public relations in dealing with China and the Hong Kong protests, but hearing about the gaming company Blizzard has really taken the cake for me.
Esports player Chung Ng Wai (aka Blitzchung) was recently playing in a Hearthstone Grandmasters tournament – Hearthstone being a virtual card game. During a post-match interview, Blitzchung exclaimed, “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!”, which turns out is a big no-no for Blizzard. They in turn proceeded to ban him from the tournament, ban him from competing for a year and also reclaimed the prize money he had won.
Why did Blizzard do this? Well, their response was that he violated competition rules:
Upon further review we have found the action has violated the 2019 Hearthstone Grandmasters Official Competition Rules section 6.1 (o) and is individual behavior which does not represent Blizzard or Hearthstone Esports. 6.1 (o) is found below.
2019 HEARTHSTONE® GRANDMASTERS OFFICIAL COMPETITION RULES v1.4 p.12, Section 6.1 (o)
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.
Yes, offending a portion of the public – public meaning authoritarian China. But Blizzard’s reasoning doesn’t seem to check out, considering they also fired the two interviewers who apparently were in the wrong place at the wrong time. I mean, how crazy is that? The interviewers.
I see two takeaways from all this:
- Major American companies are willing to compromise the very ideals of their home country for profit.
- China has become powerful enough to dictate policies of American companies.
One thing that has come out of the Hong Kong protests is a grand reminder of how important money is to American corporations and how they’ll sell out principles America is founded on for that sweet, sweet Chinese market.
I don’t really ever expect companies to be shining examples of moral standards. Or to even really put anything above their quarterly profits. But I didn’t know it was THIS bad. Completely silencing a person calling for freedom and democracy to cater to the same authoritarian government trying to control him, all to keep their cash flow coming in, is a new level for me.
Secondly, I’m not an expert on international economics, so I can’t tell you exactly how bad it is that China is dictating American company policy, but I can tell you it’s not good. China essentially seems to be controlling the products and practices of American corporations. Companies are bending over backwards to appease China, even at their public relations expense, giving more and more power to China each time.
For companies like Apple, the NBA and Blizzard, they’re weighing the risks of selling their soul to keep China paying if it means more profit for them. And for us, selling your soul for a few yuan more should come with a price reaped by the American public.