A Tencent reporter is seen with the Houston Rockets mascot, Clutch, before Game Six of the Western Conference Semifinals against the San Antonio Spurs during the 2017 NBA Playoffs on May 11, 2017 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
David Dow | National Basketball Association | Getty Images
Nearly all of the National Basketball Association’s Chinese partners have publicly announced that they are ending or suspending their relationships with the league.
Out of the 25 official partners listed on the NBA China website, 13 are Chinese businesses. So far, 11 of those companies have distanced themselves from the sports league amid escalating tensions between China and the NBA.
Ctrip.com, Anta Sports, Changhong, Meiling, Dicos, EHi Car Rental, Master Kong, China Mengniu Dairy, Migu Video, WuZun and Xiaoyin Technology are among the Chinese companies that have ended or suspended their cooperation with the NBA, according to Chinese public statements translated by CNBC.
The remaining two Chinese partners are joint-venture brands that have not issued any statements yet.
As the country with the largest population in the world and the second-largest economy, China is one of the NBA’s most important markets. That relationship began eroding Sunday after Houston Rockets general manger Darly Morey tweeted in support of the anti-government protests in Hong Kong. The tweet was quickly deleted and Morey apologized, but his comments drew backlash in China.
The NBA initially put out a statement saying that it had “great respect for the history and culture of China,” sparking outrage in the U.S. The league’s commissioner Adam Silver then released another statement said Tuesday that it is not the NBA’s role to adjucate different viewpoints on issues.