Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, continued to assail the NBA and China on Monday, tweeting his support of “South Park,” which was banned from China after a recent episode critical of the Communist government, and at the same time criticizing the league for its perceived capitulation to Beijing.
The most recent episode of “South Park,” titled, “Band in China,” was scrubbed from China’s highly-regulated Internet after it criticized Hollywood for going out of its way to avoid offending the one-party state, according to The Hollywood Reporter. In the episode, the character of Randy got arrested for selling marijuana in China and was sent to a work camp similar to those where as many as a million Chinese Muslims have been imprisoned.
At the camp, Randy ran into Winnie the Pooh — which also has been banned in China because of the character’s comparisons to Chinese President Xi Jinping.
In his tweet, Cruz encouraged his followers to watch the episode.
“Annoy a communist. Watch South Park. (Note to @NBA: this is how it’s done.),” he posted.
The censorship came after Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted in support of Hong Kong protestors over the weekend.
Team owner Tilman Fertitta distanced himself and the organization from Morey’s remarks. NBA officials said they were “extremely disappointed” by Morey’s “inappropriate” tweet about Hong Kong, which “severely hurt the feelings of Chinese fans.”
Since the now-deleted tweet, sportswear brand Li-Ning and Rockets sponsor Shanghai Pudong Development Bank (SPD Bank) Credit Card Center have cut tires with the team.
Protesters in Hong Kong have clashed with police after months of demonstrations against Chinese-backed authorities. Beijing has been seen as trying to exercise more control over the semi-autonomous territory.
The NBA has been heavily invested in China with its 1.4 billion potential fans. The Rockets have had a deep following there because of its connection to the country’s most famous player, Yao Ming, who was drafted in 2002 and embarked on a Hall of Fame career.
South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone issued a statement about the episode while mocking China and the NBA.
“Like the NBA, we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts,” the statement read. “We too love money more than freedom and democracy. Xi doesn’t look like Winnie the Pooh at all. Tune into our 300th episode this Wednesday at 10! Long live the great Communist Party of China. May the autumn’s sorghum harvest be bountiful. We good now China?”
U.S. lawmakers from across the political spectrum have blasted the league for its stance. Many accused the league of appeasing to what they called a repressive regime.
Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican, took his dissatisfaction a step further Monday, calling on the NBA to cancel games in China. The Los Angeles Lakers are scheduled to square-off with the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday in Shanghai and Saturday in Shenzhen, China.