Chinese internet users slammed the double standards of US politicians and international media commentators for criticizing basketball superstar LeBron James over his calls to punish Houston Rockets General Manager Darly Morey for tweeting support for Hong Kong riots.
Compared with Chinese people's restraint and rationality in dealing with NBA games, the turbulence faced by James in the US reinforces the idea that the US has zero tolerance for different opinions, Chinese analysts noted.
James said during an interview on Monday that Morey was "misinformed" and "uneducated" about the situation in Hong Kong when he retweeted support for Hong Kong riots, according to the Wall Street Journal.
James also implied that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver failed to properly punish Morey, the Wall Street Journal reported.
James tweeted Wednesday that "I do not believe there was any consideration for the consequences and ramifications of the [Morey's] tweet" and "people should understand what a tweet or statement can do to others."
James' comment met a flood of criticism on international social media and from some US politicians who alleged James cared more about selling sneakers to China than American values.
Meanwhile Hong Kong rioters burned James' jersey on Tuesday, according to photos and videos that circulated widely on social media.
Chinese Net users denounced such criticisms and harsh treatment toward James as showcasing US double standards on freedom of speech they boast for.
"Those who advocate Morey's speech are flattered, and anyone who hold a different view will face backlash. It seems like the so-called US freedom of speech is biased and only tilts to those in favor of US political correctness," an internet user posted on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo platform.
James' move was just an expression of his views, which should be respected, never satirized or treated violently, the user argued.
Chinese internet users also accused the US of using freedom of speech as a political tool to target and crack down on China.
Topics related to the controversy on Sina Weibo were viewed nearly 200 million times as of press time.