Chinese “web police” arrested a 25-year-old Houston Rockets fan for posting an image of him holding a lighter next to a Chinese flag, the Daily Mail reported.
The alleged incident occurred days after a tweet from Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey expressing support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, which ended up costing the team significant business partnerships in the communist nation.
In the aftermath, Rockets star player James Harden apologized for the tweet, saying “we love China.”
What are the reported details surrounding the photo?
The Daily Mail said the now-deleted photo of an individual sporting a Rockets’ jersey and a face covering was uploaded Sunday on Weibo, a Twitter-like site, under an account titled, “Howard Wang Haoda.” The outlet said the upload happened after Morey posted his controversial “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong” tweet.
Wang — a musician — wrote, “I live and die with the team” and “come and get me,” the Daily Mail said.
The outlet added that Wang’s eye patch in the photo raised speculation that he supports the Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters, given that eye patches have been connected to the movement since police hit a demonstrator in the eye with a bean bag at an August rally.
What did the ‘web police’ have to say?
According to a statement released by web police on Weibo, Wang published remarks that “insulted” the Chinese national flag, the Daily Mail added.
Police in Liaoyuan — in northeastern China’s Jilin Province — detained Wang on Monday, the outlet said.
China’s Criminal Law says anyone who “purposely insults” the national flag by burning, destroying, scribbling, soiling, and trampling can be jailed up to three years, the Daily News added.
What’s the background?
The fallout from Morey’s tweet has been grabbing headlines for days.
The NBA initially rebuked Morey for offending China and Chinese fans, but later NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced his support of Morey and free speech — which prompted China to stop broadcasting of NBA preseason games.
Even “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone got in on the act, creating an episode that poked fun at how Hollywood does its best to avoid offending China — which prompted China to wipe the episode from its airwaves and Internet.