Former NBA star Dwight Howard, who currently plays for the Taoyuan Leopards over in Taiwan, walked back recent comments he made in which he referred to Taiwan as its own independent country after being pressured by Chinese critics online.
Howard is the most recent example of an American celebrity angering the communist nation and eventually apologizing for it. Howard’s flap came after he took part in a tourism video promoting the small nation of Taiwan.
“Since I’ve come to Taiwan, I’ve gained a whole new appreciation of this country,” Howard says in the video. “This place makes me feel so much love and I experience so much hospitality with a friendly and great living environment with such a great and diverse culture.”
That one word – country – was enough for users of the Chinese Communist Party-controlled social media app Weibo to band together harass Howard, going so far as to demand that the American athlete apologize for the misdeed.
Readers might find it rather silly that a nearly 7-foot-tall, mega-rich former NBA Champion would bow to pressure over something so innocuous, but Howard did exactly that.
“Where I’m from if I say I wanna go to the country, it doesn’t mean that place is a country. It’s just how we talk,” said Howard in a statement obtained by CNN, in which he used some stellar mental gymnastics to somehow win this losing situation he put himself in. “If I offended anyone in China, I apologize.”
“It was not my intention to harm anyone with what I said in the commercial,” he continued. “I am not a politician. I don’t want to get involved in any politics… I have the utmost respect for Chinese people and utmost respect for Taiwanese people, so it was never my intent to disrespect nobody.”
Howard knew exactly what he was saying in that commercial, and it doesn’t take a geopolitical expert to sum up in five seconds that Taiwan is a recognized independent nation, and that China isn’t happy about that and wants to eventually find a way to absorb the sovereign outlier one day. Most likely by force.
It’s not out of the question that Howard was pressured by some entity on the Taiwan side, either. Besides the geopolitical implications, they want the 8-time NBA All-Star to stick around and do more of this:
He wasn’t confused, he was cowardly, but what do you think? Let us know in the comments below and across social media.