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Houston Rockets fan arrested in China after he threatened to burn the national flag



He was behind bars a few hours later.

Authorities in the northeastern Chinese province of Jilin said Howard Wang was accused of publishing "insults against the national flag" on Weibo, China's equivalent to Twitter. Wang was arrested shortly after and the case is investigated, the local police said in a statement.

It is illegal to desecrate the flag in China, and offenders can expect imprisonment of up to 3 years.

Wang's social media post was released Sunday, just days after Rocket's longtime general manager Daryl Morey tweeted in support of months of anti-government protests in Hong Kong.

The Rockets have been the most popular NBA franchise in China since the design of Chinese superstar Yao Ming in 2002. Yao played his entire NBA career in Houston.

Morey cleared the tweet and made an apology that failed to appease the NBA's Chinese partners and infuriate US politicians who accused the league of putting profits before values.

After being exposed to domestic criticism, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issued a more forceful statement defending the League's right to freedom of expression.

"Values ​​such as equality, respect, and freedom of expression have long defined the NBA – and will continue to do so," said Silver. "The NBA will not be able to regulate what players, employees and team owners say or do not say on these issues." Support the rockets. Some said they would not buy rocket equipment if Morey did not resign. Several Chinese companies have also stopped working with the team.

On Weibo, some posters said that if Morey can say what he wants, they would, no matter how controversial. So they published comments in support of September 11 or the independence of California to mock the idea of ​​freedom of expression.

It is unclear how many Chinese people supported Wang because China's Internet is heavily censored. Many people within the country are also likely to be aware of self-censorship because they are aware of the consequences of content that could get them into trouble with the government.

Wang's photo showed him wearing a mask and patch over one eye, both common symbols among protesters who took to the streets in Hong Kong over the past 18 weeks. While the demonstrations were initially peaceful, they became increasingly violent as political unrest continued.

Hong Kong police regularly use tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and water cannons to disperse unauthorized demonstrations. Protesters have increasingly targeted police for Molotov cocktails and bricks. The demonstrators also devastated state property, the city's subway system, and companies that are viewed as pro-China.


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