Good evening. We don’t usually set out to have themed issues here at The Wire, but sometimes a topic comes along that piques everyone’s interest, and there are too many interesting threads to follow for just one story. That’s what happened when we started looking into the NBA’s China business and China’s overall investment in sports. We hope you find it as fun and fascinating as we did! If you’re not already a paid subscriber to The Wire, please sign up here.
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The NBA’s Jam
In 2019, tickets to an NBA game in China were selling for as much as $2,675, and the NBA was making an estimated $500 million from its popularity in the country. But the NBA’s ludicrous success in China was suddenly cut short when Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets, sent out a now infamous tweet showing support for Hong Kong protesters. What ensued was a global kerfuffle that, under different circumstances, might have blown over. In this week’s cover story, Chris Beam examines the collision of forces that led to the fallout and maps out the possible roads to recovery.
China’s Foray into International Sports
After China’s State Council outlined a plan in 2014 for the country to become a sports powerhouse, Chinese companies went on a global sports buying spree. Over the past five years, Chinese companies have poured well over $10 billion into media rights, team sponsorships, and acquisitions of international teams and sports apparel brands. The country is on its way to becoming a central player in international sports, The Wire’s Eli Binder reports.
The Big Picture: The NBA is Big Business in China
Though ties between the NBA and its Chinese partners have frayed, basketball is big business in China, and it’s been growing steadily since the formation of NBA China in 2008. How is it that Chinese business interests came to hold such sway over a major U.S. sports league? In this week’s Big Picture we’re exploring the NBA’s Chinese subsidiary and the business deals that have made it so valuable to the league.
A Q&A With John Bolton
John Bolton is the former U.S. National Security Advisor to President Trump, author of the new book The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, and a long-time foreign policy hawk. In this interview with The Wire’s David Barboza, he discusses civil military fusion, Hong Kong, and how 5G has changed the risks involved in collaboration with China’s telecom giants Huawei and ZTE.
Illustration by Lauren Crow
China’s Flawed Supply Side Recovery
The Chinese economy seems to be roaring back, with state media trumpeting a 3.2 percent jump in nominal GDP from a year ago. But a closer look at the numbers reveals a darker picture. The production recovery is concentrated in certain goods, and the data on consumption consistent with a government doing a bare minimum to prevent the complete cratering of demand. Like in the U.S. and other major economies, income insecurity is widespread. As The Wire columnist Victor Shih explains in this week’s column, ripple effects could be felt for years to come, and not just in China.
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