Portland 2010=Belgrade 1999? Not Quite.

  • On March 12, 2010, not long after Huanqiu Shibao (the Global Times) published this story (translated here on S.V.) which cited his Sina.com microblog as encouraging Chinese Netizens to consider a boycott of Portland TrailBlazers broadcasts, it seems sportscaster Yu Jia reconsidered the wisdom of encouraging a major online campaign against the city of Portland.  On his microblog, he posted this message:

  • 面对开拓者的囧境,有人拍手称快,有人同情怜悯;让我想起11年前北约轰炸我驻前南大使馆,NBA停播,那时远没这多不同的声音。这如同两会过程中出现很多不同的声音,这并不是最重要的。最重要的是越来越多的普通人能在相对开放的环境下关注社会现状、发表观点,这就是从0到1式的进步,从无到有的进步。

  • Which I translate as:

  • “Facing the [prospect of] limitations on the [Portland] Trailblazers, there are some people who are clapping in encouragement of going quickly, while other people have sentiments of mercy.   This all makes me think of [the demonstrations] eleven years ago when NATO bombed our embassy in Belgrade: ceasing NBA broadcasts is certainly a very different statement than that distant time.  It is also as if the achievements now taking place in the National Congresses in Beijing are emerging with a very different voice; so this matter [of protesting NBA broadcasts] is not the most important.  The most important thing is that more and more common people are able to openly consider and pay attention to the current situation of society, putting forth their views.  This is truly to progress from 0 to 1, and advance from nothing to something. 

  • It’s hard to imagine what prompted this message, but the author becomes quiet thereafter on the Portland-Tibet issue.  It seems clear that he somehow became concerned (perhaps in a message from above) that the issue could perturb the much more central and significant national narrative in Beijing of the Lianghui (People’s Congress meetings).  In other words, pressure had already been applied to the “separatist” supporters in the U.S., purpose served, and whipping up a mob would have detracted from the focus on Beijing and Wen Jiabao’s press conference.  (Yes, Wen styles himself a brilliant Premier with a following much like his role model Zhou Enlai.  He even got a powder-puff question about his health which reminded me of the complete media-sell-out question to George W. Bush in March 2003 about his faith [which is more important than the postwar disposition of the Baath Party how?] on the eve of the Iraq War.)
  • Portland’s Brandon Roy solved the problem of Blazers coverage in China in part by being named Western Conference Player of the Week, which he was feted for in the Chinese sports press as well.  The NBA BBS in China is also situation normal.  So it appears that the case is closed, at least until the next March 10, if not before…

    Hoop Dreams on the Chinese-North Korean border -- photo by Adam Cathcart

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