ESPN Uses Chinese Propaganda in TV Graphic

ESPN Graphic of "China"/ Twitter Screenshot

ESPN on Wednesday evening showed a graphic recognizing China's erroneous claim to own the South China Sea, despite the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling against that claim in 2016.

While transitioning to a segment about the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team arriving in Shanghai for their Thursday game, ESPN showed a graphic of China with the so-called Nine-Dash Line. The dashed lines encircle the South China Sea, marking the large area of it the PRC claims to control.

The Heritage Foundation's John Cooper posted the clip on Twitter.

China has repeatedly claimed it owns 90 percent of the South China Sea under a so-called Nine-Dash Line. but the Permanent Court of Arbitration, an international court located in the Hague, Netherlands, ruled in 2016 that China's claim was illegal. The court said there was no evidence or historical context that showed China having exclusive control over the South China Sea or its resources.

"The Tribunal concluded that there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line,'" the court said.

However, China has rejected this ruling.

Earlier this summer, China conducted a series of missile tests in the South China Sea in an attempt to send a message to the United States, according to Adm. Philip Davidson, commander of the Indo-Pacific Command.

The Chinese fired six anti-ship ballistic missiles in the South China Sea in the first sea launch of the new DF-21D missile. The unique missile is designed to sink U.S. aircraft carriers at sea with a maneuvering warhead.

The Pentagon also said the missile tests were a violation of a 2015 pledge made by Chinese president Xi Jinping not to militarize disputed islands in the South China Sea.

The U.S. statement came amid growing tensions between Vietnam and China over access to undersea resources.

The NBA stirred controversy earlier in the week when it sided with China over Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, who got into trouble with the Chinese government for a tweet supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. Morey later deleted his tweet and posted a thread clarifying he was not speaking on behalf of the team, but did not apologize.

Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta quickly distanced himself from Morey, as did Rockets players James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Harden said he was "sorry" and Westbrook said, "We apologize. We love China."

The NBA would later release a statement reading:

We recognize that the views expressed by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable. While Daryl has made it clear that his tweet does not represent the Rockets or the NBA, the values of the league support individuals’ educating themselves and sharing their views on matters important to them. We have great respect for the history and culture of China and hope that sports and the NBA can be used as a unifying force to bridge cultural divides and bring people together.