Disney CEO Bob Iger has chosen to not have an opinion on the Hong Kong protests, as voicing an opinion could harm the company in the Chinese markets.
“What we learned in the last week — we’ve learned how complicated this is,” Iger said when asked about China. “The biggest learning from that is that caution is imperative. To take a position that could harm our company in some form would be a big mistake. I just don’t believe it’s something we should engage in in a public manner.”
Many businesses have chosen not to comment on the Hong Kong protests in order to not hurt their financial stakes in China. The country’s $9 billion in box office sales make up about a quarter of world-wide sales.
Recently, The NBA had exhibition games pulled from Chinese TV and lost Chinese sponsors after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted on Friday (and then deleted) an image with the slogan “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.” The NBA issued a statement that said it was “regrettable” that Morey’s views “deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China.”
Activision-Blizzard received criticism from the public and US politicians after it banned a Hearthstone player for actively supporting the Hong Kong protests. China’s largest tech conglomerate Tencent owns a 5% stake in Activision Blizzard, which was worth a reported $2.5 billion in 2018.
Originally the protests were only in regards to the extradition bill, which would allow local authorities to detain and extradite criminal fugitives who are wanted in territories with which Hong Kong does not currently have extradition agreements, including Taiwan and mainland China. People were concerned that the bill would subject Hong Kong residents and visitors to the mainland Chinese jurisdiction, undermining the autonomy of the region and its civil liberties.