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Ambassador Gui Congyou Gives Exclusive Interview with SVT on the Erroneous Comments on Hong Kong by General Manager of Houston Rockets and China-Sweden Sports Exchanges

On 10 October, Ambassador Gui Congyou gave an exclusive interview with Theo Bylund from SVT Sport at the Chinese Embassy, and answered questions about the erroneous comments on Hong Kong by general manager of Houston Rockets and China-Sweden sports exchanges. Following is the full text of the interview.

Q: Mr. Ambassador, this interview is mainly about the conflict between the NBA and China. I would like to learn about the positions of the Chinese side on the conflict, the reactions of the Chinese public and how it will affect NBA in China.

Ambassador Gui: I'd like to begin by welcoming you and your colleague to the Embassy for communication. Regarding the conflict between NBA and China that you mentioned, I believe it needs to be understood from the following perspectives. First of all, the outside world needs to really put itself in the shoes of China, and try to look at the comments by general manager of Houston Rockets Daryl Morey from the perspective of China and the national sentiments of the Chinese people. Since Britain started the Opium War against China in 1840, Western powers invaded China and occupied territories of China one after another, turning China into a divided semi-colonial and semi-feudal society. Foreign powers established leased territories, or "states within a state", in China, and even compared Chinese people to dogs and banned them from entering the leased territories. The Chinese people, after 28 years of arduous struggle under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, completely drove away foreign invaders from the mainland of China, established the new China, took back our national sovereignty and put an end to the history of humiliation brought by foreign powers' invasion and occupation. However, China is still yet to realize its complete reunification, and is still suffering from the bitter consequences of over 100 years of invasion and occupation by Western powers. China's Taiwan is still yet to return to the arms of motherland. China took Hong Kong back from Britain in 1997, and took Macau back from Portugal in 1999, which marked big steps towards a complete reunification of China. But the over 100 years of invasion and occupation of China by Western powers still led some people in Taiwan and Hong Kong to have the delusion of separating Taiwan and Hong Kong from China, and there are some foreign forces that support and instigate them. Therefore any words and deeds that support or instigate the secession of Taiwan and Hong Kong from China are adding salt to the wound of China, which can never be accepted by China and the whole Chinese people. Some violent extremists in Hong Kong blatantly chanted "Hong Kong Independence" or "Free Hong Kong" while holding the national flags of the US and the UK, which is far beyond the boundaries of freedom of speech. The words of Daryl Morey are support for the violent extremists, and of course it is strongly condemned and boycotted by the 1.4 billion Chinese people. There is no absolute freedom of speech in the world. Freedom of speech comes with two basic prerequisites. First, it needs to be factual. It cannot distort black with white. Second, it needs to be accountable. If what is said violates the sovereignty and threatens social stability of other countries, or causes turmoil, such speech will not be tolerated in any country.

There is clear international consensus that sports should not be politicized. Sports associations around the world also have regulations that punish politicizing sports. During a game in UEFA Champions League, some fans waved slogans that support the independence of Catalonia of Spain, and the fans were expelled from the stadium immediately. In a World Cup qualifier that was held in Hong Kong recently, some fans booed China's national anthem. As a result the Hong Kong Football Federation was fined by FIFA. General manager of Houston Rockets Daryl Morey used his identity as a well-known sports figure and the popular platform of NBA to propagate his political views, which clearly violates relevant international consensus and rules. What he did infringed on China's sovereignty and social stability, and naturally it was boycotted by the whole 1.4 billion Chinese people. Before Daryl Morey takes concrete actions to correct the mistake, neither the China Basketball Association nor other Chinese partners will continue any form of cooperation with the Rockets. He cannot expect the country and people that he humiliated to continue working with him.

Q: The views of the Chinese side elaborated by Mr. Ambassador are clearly received. I am curious how the remarks by one individual could have such a big impact on the relations between NBA and China as a country?

Ambassador Gui: As I said, after over 100 years of occupation and enslavement of China by Western powers, the Chinese people see our national sovereignty and territorial integrity as our life. What Daryl Morey said crossed the red line of our sovereignty, territorial integrity and national dignity. His comments encouraged and instigated the violent extremists that want to separate Hong Kong from China, and of course it would be condemned and boycotted by 1.4 billion Chinese people. Anyone, not only Daryl Morey, who issue such remarks will be boycotted by the whole Chinese people. Just as President Xi Jinping pointed out, no one should expect us to swallow the bitter fruit of having our sovereignty, security and development interests.

Q: Basketball is a big sport. Statistics show that 300 million people in China play basketball, and 490 million Chinese fans watched the NBA games last year. Will they agree with the actions of the Chinese Government? Will they agree not to watch the games they like? At the NBA China Game held in Shanghai today, it was presumed that the NBA players would be greeted with boos and hisses on the spot, but that did not happen. What do you think?

Ambassador Gui: We are willing to have exchanges with various sports organizations and teams all over the world including the NBA, but every Chinese will not agree with words and deeds that undermine China's sovereign independence and territorial integrity. We resolutely boycott those who, like Daryl Morey, harm China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, but welcome sportsmen and teams that do not mix politics with sports and do not harm China's interests. We will not stop exchanges and cooperation with other sports teams in the United States because of Daryl Morey's erroneous words and deeds. Even less will we exclude exchanges and cooperation with Swedish basketball teams and other sports teams. On the contrary, we welcome even more such cooperation.

Q: The Houston Rockets are very famous in China, and Yao Ming once played in that team. Do you think this incidence has a special impact because it is the Houston Rockets who made such a statement ?

Ambassador Gui: Whoever in the international community that says or does anything to damage China's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity will be firmly opposed by all Chinese people.

Q: What impact do you think the China-US trade war has on the conflict between China and the NBA?

Ambassador Gui: I think they are two different things. China-US trade war and the negotiations around it are one thing, and the suspension of exchanges and cooperation between Chinese organizations and companies and the Houston Rockets and the NBA is another thing. We do not link these two things.

Q: How do you think this event will evolve in the future?

Ambassador Gui: How this event evolves is completely up to the actions of Daryl Morey and the NBA. If Daryl Morey can fully admit his mistake and sincerely apologize to the Chinese people, the Chinese people are still willing to forgive him and continue to carry out exchanges and cooperation. But if he refuses to come to his senses and apologize, the Chinese people will have to say goodbye to him.

Q: Daryl Morey has already withdrawn the original tweet. It seems that it's not enough for you. What does he need to do to get China to embrace the Houston Rockets again?

Ambassador Gui: After seeing the strong indignation and condemnation from the Chinese fans, Daryl Morey withdrew his erroneous remarks, which shows that he himself has realized that he had done something wrong. However, if he does not take further measures to publicly admit his mistakes and sincerely apologize to the Chinese people, he cannot get by. No one in the world, including Daryl Morey, should expect China to swallow the bitter pill of having its national sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and dignity undermined.

At the end, Ambassador Gui said, I would like to send a message to the general public in Sweden through you. As an ambassador, I shoulder the important mission of promoting China-Sweden sports exchanges and cooperation. China is a big country in sports, but yet a sports power. It is in the process of building a sports power. Sweden, however, despite its population of only 10 million, it is strong in many sports. We are willing to strengthen sports exchanges and cooperation with the Swedish side and learn from Sweden's experience in its strength. China is actively preparing for the 2022 Winter Olympics. Sweden is a winter sports power. We hope to further strengthen cooperation with Sweden in winter sports, including inviting Swedish high-level coaches to coach athletes in China, conducting exchanges and playing games with Swedish sports teams, and introducing Sweden's experience in promoting winter sports in primary and secondary schools. The Embassy has organized its staff members and their families to watch games of the Djurgården Hockey. We have also invited the head of the HC Kunlun Red Star, a ice hockey club in Beijing, to communicate with the heads of Swedish Ice Hockey Association and the Djurgården club. The two sides have established a cooperative relationship. Last winter, the Chinese ladies' Ski Jumping team had a training session in Falun of Sweden. It is hoped that the SVT Sport will play an active role in promoting China-Sweden sports exchanges and cooperation. You are welcome to do interviews in China and visit Beijing and Zhangjiakou to see the preparations for the 2022 Winter Olympics and the construction of the venues.

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