July 15, 2021

Economic statecraft is defined as a state’s utilisation of economic means to pursue policy goals. The National Basketball Association (NBA)’s recent experience with China provides an illustrative example of economic statecraft. In response to a pro-Hong Kong demonstration tweet by an NBA general manager, China perceived a challenge to its national sovereignty. China effectively silenced the NBA by using conditional market access to target both the league’s organisational and individual financial interests within China. By leveraging the interests of various commercial actors, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) directly targeted the NBA rather than pressuring the U.S. government. To counter Chinese economic statecraft, a multifaceted approach is recommended. The approach includes government-led education on Chinese censorship laws, increased transparency that provides full disclosures of conflicts of interests, and encouraging sport organisations to publicise and unite in response to Chinese economic statecraft.

Hong Kong Hardball by J. Tedford Tyler Saron Araya Ryan Sullivan Tarni Hewage & William J. Norris Received 18 Sep 2020, Accepted 01 Apr 2021, Published online: 28 Apr 2021


William Norris

Dr. William Norris is currently an associate professor of Chinese foreign and security policy at the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University where he teaches graduate-level courses in Chinese domestic politics, East Asian security, and Chinese foreign policy. Dr. Norris has been an associate with the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington D.C. where his work examined the potential for a conventional US-China conflict to escalate to the nuclear realm. He was also a postdoctoral research associate at the Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs and a fellow in the Princeton-Harvard China and the World Program, a joint program created by the two universities to foster the study of China’s foreign relations. He completed his doctoral work in the Security Studies Program in the Department of Political Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he specialized in the confluence of economics and security, focusing on the role of economics in contemporary Chinese grand strategy.


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