Los Angeles-A Taiwanese-American National Basketball Association (NBA) fan who recently launched a fundraiser to give away T-shirts in support of Hong Kong's democracy movement told CNA Tuesday that he is doing so to support freedom of speech, while calling on Taiwanese to cherish the freedom they enjoy.
The fan, who identified himself only as "Sun," told CNA that he and 100-plus volunteers planned to give away 13,000 T-shirts he designed outside a sports arena in downtown Los Angeles.
They hoped that hoops fans attending the game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers Tuesday would wear the T-shirts emblazoned with the words "fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong," he said.
The 30-something Sun, who works at a tech company in the Bay Area, and has family in Taiwan, said he wanted to show his support for Hong Kong's months-long pro-democracy protests and freedom of speech in the United States.
Sun initially launched the online fundraising campaign on Oct. 9 as the world's most popular pro hoops league came under fire in China for a pro-Hong Kong protest tweet from the general manager of the Houston Rockets, one of the league's 30 teams.
The Rockets' executive posted an image on Twitter earlier this month that read "fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong," drawing strong opposition from China and leading to the team being blacklisted by China's top state broadcaster, which said it would not broadcast any Rockets games in the new NBA season.
Chinese anger expanded to include the NBA leadership after the league's commissioner Adam Silver later said the league respects its members' freedom of expression.
Sun ultimately raised US$43,000, which was used to make 13,000 T-shirts.
Sun told CNA that he and his volunteers as well as those who donated money "want to stand up to Chinese attempts to try to get American companies to try to self-censor ourselves," he said.
People should be able to speak their minds and he thinks it is important for both Taiwanese and Americans to support Hong Kong in preserving freedom.
"It is also important for Taiwan to understand how precious freedom is," he added.
Sun claimed that during the fundraising process, he received words of encouragement from Chinese nationals, who messaged him to express their support for Hong Kong.
However, they were afraid to say so publicly in China, concerned that doing so could put themselves, their families and their livelihoods at risk, he noted.
Sun said he understands that such sympathy toward Hong Kong might be held by only a minority in Mainland China as most Chinese citizens are proud of their country.
There is nothing wrong with being patriotic but what he fears is that the voice of the minority that supports Hong Kong is completely silent in China.
"They are afraid to speak up, and that's a terrible situation," he said.
He would hate Hong Kong, Taiwan and the U.S. to one day become like China, where people are afraid to say what they think, he said.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel