Something Evil – MLB and China




1. the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense.

Major League Baseball (MLB) has drawn the line. A new Georgia law, which requires some form of ID in order to request an absentee ballot is outrageous. It is intolerable. The All-Star Game will not be played in Atlanta as planned. It will be moved elsewhere, where human rights are respected, and common decency is still observed.

Beijing, maybe?

The same MLB that cannot stomach the idea of someone having to put down their driver’s license number (or other forms of accepted i.d.’s) when applying for an absentee ballot seems to have no problem whatsoever with human rights practices in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). In fact, MLB just expanded its contract with the Chinese tech giant Tencent. The new contract gives Tencent the rights to continue streaming MLB games in China until 2023. It will also give the firm the right to broadcast the games in a number of other Asian countries. Tencent is one of China’s largest tech companies, operating a streaming service as well as the WeChat app that allows messaging, video conferencing, and online shopping. Tencent is also part of the omnipresent Chinese Communist Party (CCP) surveillance state, which ruthlessly crushes dissent and employs genocide as a tool of oppression.

If you use WeChat your messages are made directly available to the Chinese Communist government and its security services. WeChat uses artificial intelligence to identify and delete images deemed subversive. Accounts that spread unauthorized news and analysis are shut down. Anything deemed harmful to the interests of the CCP is censored. Users of WeChat who mock Xi Jinping, criticize the CCP, or complain about human rights can face penalties that can include imprisonment.

Tencent’s spying does not stop at China’s water’s edge. If you are communicating via its apps from anywhere in the world, your messages are being fed into China’s vast surveillance system. In fact, keeping tabs on dissent abroad is a major focus of Tencent’s efforts.

A particular focus of Chinese surveillance are dissident groups like the Uyghurs. The Campaign for Uyghurs – a group that organizes on behalf of the Uyghur minority in China – has this to say about how information gathered from WeChat is used by the CCP:

“Information collected from WeChat can be enough to land one in a concentration camp or prison, as is the case for many Uyghurs who have contact with foreigners or family members who are abroad. Tencent, WeChat’s parent company, is thus clearly complicit in the genocide of Uyghurs, amongst other affronts on human rights. The United States administration has not been alone in acknowledging this. India has also banned far more Chinese apps than were addressed by the U.S. executive order on August sixth.”

Campaign for Uyghurs

Since foreign social media apps are not allowed inside China’s Great Firewall of Internet control, WeChat has become an easy one-stop instrument for the implementation of authoritarian technology. Not only can the CCP, using Tencent’s capabilities censor what is said and seen, but it can also directly feed propaganda to Chinese citizens. WeChat is so perfected for these tasks that it was rated zero out of one hundred points by Amnesty International for messaging privacy.

In June 2019 Hong Kong was rocked by protests sparked by increasing signs that the CCP was no longer going to respect the former British colony’s special democratic status. The CCP, terrified of the possibility of these protests provoking similar demands for democracy on the mainland, leaned heavily on the capabilities Tencent and its corresponding apps provided. While Hong Kong was seeing daily mass demonstrations, searches on WeChat for news of the events returned no results. Images of the demonstrations sent from one individual to another via WeChat were automatically blocked and did not go through.

The CCP was not content to simply block news of the protests; it also fed completely false news to its populace via WeChat creating, in effect, a completely alternate universe for its population. Using these kinds of capabilities the CCP can ensure that Chinese citizens see only what the Communist regime wants them to see.
The same techniques are employed within Tibet, a formerly independent nation now under Chinese occupation. The Dalai Lama’s messages to the Tibetan people are heavily censored by Tencent and the CCP, and users with dissenting political viewpoints are cut off from the internet by removing them from the app. Sharing politically sensitive information on WeChat in Tibet can get you eight years in prison.

WeChat also works as part of China’s overarching social credit system. This system monitors, shames, and punished China’s 1.4 billion citizens determining who is deemed trustworthy and who is stepping out of line. Each individual’s social credit score fluctuates according to his behavior. Does he pay bills on time? Does he smoke in non-smoking areas? Does he jaywalk?

As part of this system, Tencent and WeChat maintain what is known as the “Deadbeat Map.” This application shows you the full name, court case number, transgressions, and even partial home addresses of anyone with low social credit scores within a 500-meter radius of the user. It is, in effect, a modern-day, high-tech version of putting people in the stocks and holding them up to public ridicule.

These are the business partners of Major League Baseball, once upon a time known as America’s pastime. Stalin and Mao could only dream of being able to so completely control and oppress a population and so ruthlessly suppress dissent. Yet, none of it matters. There are vast sums of money to be made, and in the end, after all the press releases and statements, that’s the only thing you need to know. Of what consequence are broken lives, torture, and genocide when one is talking about broadcast revenue in a nation of 1.4 billion people?

I would say that the stench of hypocrisy was overpowering. I think that might be understating the case. There is something simply overpoweringly evil about the idea of an American sports league that has given us the likes of Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Jackie Robinson, selling its soul to the monsters that run today’s China. Maybe they should move all their games to Beijing.