- The Washington Times
Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Add the gaming community to the business sectors that have been torn between support for protestors in Hong Kong and the Communist Party leaders in Beijing who control the vast mainland market there.

Activision Blizzard, the California company that designed, has stripped Chung Ng Wai - known as blitzchung - of his professional winnings and suspended him from future tournaments of his game, it was announced this week.

The company took the action after blitzhung voiced his support for pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong, who are seeking to prevent the city´s justice system from being subsumed by China´s.

Blitzchung made the comments on Oct. 6 after winning the Asia-Pacific Grandmaster tournament of ¨Hearthstone,¨ one of Blizzard´s biggest and most popular games. In his streamed victory press conference, blitzchung wore ski goggles and a gas mask, familiar accoutrements of the thousands protesting in the Hong Kong streets.

¨Liberate Hong Kong! Revolution of our time!¨ blitzchung said.

The company stripped blitzchung of his prize money for the Asia-Pacific Grandmaster title and have banned him from moving on in the competition which has an ultimate prize of $500,000.

It based its move on tournament rules that prohibit, ¨engaging in any act that, at Blizzard´s sole discretion, brings you into public disrepurt, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image.¨

The company´s decision to support China´s Communist dictators rather than Hong Kong residents comes on the heels of the NBA´s denouncing a Houston Rockets executive´s support of the protestors.

China had said it would suspend NBA broadcasts after the tweet, since deleted, from Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, and China´s Communist Party also stopped broadcasts of ¨South Park¨ after the animation comedy mocked the Party´s censorious ways.

Blizzard games and movies have made millions in China, and the nation remains one of the premier foreign markets for the NBA.

Both Blizzard´s and the NBA´s actions have been criticized by those who feel Western entities in particular should be aware of the remarkable freedoms that have allowed them to flourish and become rich, rather than put a short-sighted emphasis on current profit centers.

ort-sighted emphasis on current profit centers.

The California gaming company´s move sparked bipartisan protests from U.S. senators.

For example, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio blasted the company on Twitter, writing ¨recognize what´s happening here. People who don´t live in #China must either self censor or face dismissal & suspensions. China using access to market as leverage to crush free speech globally. Implications of this will be felt long after everyone in U.S. politics today is gone.¨

Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden then echoed that view, tweeting, ¨Blizzard shows it is willing to humiliate itself to please the Chinese Communist Party. No American company should censor calls for freedom to make a quick buck.¨

The intense online community of gamers has also taken sides in the argument, with many users being sharply critical of Blizzard´s actions against blitzchung.

On Wednesday, signs set in stone outside Blizzard´s headquarters that carried familiar Silicon Valley buzz phrases - ¨think globally,¨ and ¨every voice matters¨ - had been papered over by what Twitter users said were incensed employees.

• James Varney can be reached at jvarney@washingtontimes.com.

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