‘Taiwan is not part of China’: Tsai Ing-wen thanks Celtics’ Enes Kanter for standing with Taiwan

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Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen recently took to social media to thank Boston Celtics’ player Enes Kanter for tweeting his support for the island nation against the Chinese government.

Why it matters: On Wednesday, Kanter, 29, posted several pictures of his new sneakers that have messages in support of Taiwan’s democracy and independence, a similar feat to the one he did in October when he voiced support for Tibet and persecuted ethnic minorities in China.

  • Then over the weekend, the Swiss-born American basketball player posted a video urging people to stand with Taiwan in which he said in the video’s caption: “We must keep Taiwan free and safe. Taiwan belongs to the TAIWANESE people.”

  • His effort did not go unnoticed by the leaders of the island nation. Huang Wei-che, mayor of the city of Tainan, invited the player to visit while Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen thanked Kanter for his support in a video posted on Twitter.

Calling out Nike: In an interview with “Amanpour & Company,” Kanter maintained his criticism of Nike on its alleged use of slave laborers for manufacturing the company’s shoes in China, according to CNN.

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  • Kanter pointed out that Nike has stood up for many issues facing different U.S. communities, such as the LGBTQ community and Latino community, as well as movements such as the Black Lives Matter movement and the Stop Asian Hate movement. However, when it comes to China, the NBA star claimed the company chooses to remain silent.
  • “Nike remains silent because China is the big boss for Nike,” Kanter said. “Obviously, they’re not going to be able to answer because they know what they’re doing wrong. They’re one of the biggest hypocrite companies in the world.”
  • Christiane Amanpour, the show’s host, noted that Nike issued a statement saying otherwise. However, Kanter called the company’s announcement a “total lie” and presumed that “everyone in the world knows that there are so many slave labor camps over there in China and many other countries that Nike is profiting from.” “So that was one of the biggest reasons that I put on my shoes, ‘Modern Day Slavery’ and ‘Hypocrite Nike,’ just because they’re profiting from slave labor camps,” he added.

He is not buying it: Kanter also discussed the talk he had with NBA commissioner Adam Silver following an incident where it was allegedly “suggested that he could be ‘banned’” after wearing his “free Tibet” shoes in a game.

  • According to Kanter, Silver told him that he supported his act of speaking out against the Chinese government. However, Silver expressed doubt as to where the NBA stands on the issue.
  • “If they were really supporting me, they would have put something out there. They would have put out some kind of statement,” Kanter said in the interview. “People think I do politics, I don’t do politics. I do human rights.”

Featured Image via @EnesKanter (left), @iingwen (right)

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