Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticized China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims on Friday amid the NBA’s recent controversy regarding a team manager’s statements about the country on Friday.
In an address to the American Association of Christian Counselors in Nashville, Tenn., Pompeo proclaimed that George Orwell’s dystopian novel, “1984”, was coming to life in Xinjiang, a province in western China home to the country’s Uyghur Muslim minority community.
“The Chinese Communist Party is detaining and abusing more than one million Uyghur Muslims in internment camps in Xinjiang, the western region of China. The pages of George Orwell’s 1984 are coming to life there. I wish the NBA would acknowledge that,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo’s remarks come as the NBA has come under fire from lawmakers in Washington for its handling of a tweet by Houston Rockets general manger Daryl Morey that expressed support for pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong.
Morey later deleted the tweet, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver apologized for offending Chinese fans, which upset many lawmakers.
Silver later defended Morey and his right to free expression in subsequent statements that have angered Chinese officials and resulted in Chinese sports organizations severing all ties with the Houston Rockets and canceling some NBA fan events in the country.
It has also been recently reported by the Hong Kong Free Press that a group of US basketball fans had their “Google Uyghurs” protest sign confiscated during a match that included the Guangzhou Loong Lions.