Tell Blizzard to Support Hong Kong!

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Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. has made its stance on Free Speech and the Hong Kong liberation clear, and its actions are not in favor of its Hong Kongese fans-- or, indeed, any of its fans in general. 

In a rather appalling (if predictable) turn of events, yesterday brought yet another big name entertainment company to its knees before the will of the Chinese government. For those out of the loop on the issue, there is currently conflict between Hong Kong and China as the smaller region fights for its independence. Although the larger sovereign state of the People’s Republic of China does claim the region, due to its unique history, Hong Kong has a completely different culture and system, with more autonomy and rights on behalf of both the local government and its citizens; so when the Hong Kong government proposed its extradition bill in April of this year, it might not have been quite as alarming if Beijing had not been involved in its creation. Critics worried that the bill would undermine Hong Kong’s judicial independence from the larger governing body and endanger Hongkongers holding dissenting opinions on official Chinese policy-- AKA, protesters. 

Essentially, the public was worried that if a citizen of Hong Kong were to express dissidence of some form, the individual in question could be extradited to China for questioning on the grounds of violating the official restrictions on freedom of speech and association.

Since then, the people of Hong Kong have been organizing protests against the influence of the Chinese government, and the demonstrations have grown more violent as the local government deploys police teams armed with tear gas and rubber bullets. As protesters began to respond in self-defense, the protests were labelled “riots”, and the Chinese and Hong Kong governments have refused to negotiate. 

And where does Blizzard fit in? Well, since China is holds a large influence over the entertainment industry, many companies have sided with the People’s Republic over the Hong Kong citizens, including our most recent addition to the list: Blizzard Entertainment.

This Monday saw the ruling for a year-long suspension of Hearthstones player “blitzchung” Ng Wai and the revocation of his winnings following a post-Gamemasters Competition interview during which he voiced support for his fellow Hongkongers-- as well as firing the two casters working the broadcast, despite their lack of involvement in his statements. Blizzard’s official ruling is that Ng Wai will not be receiving his winnings (about $10,000 USD) and that he will be suspended from competition until October 5, 2020, in accordance with an official competition regulation stating that players must not engage in acts which, “in Blizzard’s sole discretion”, will bring themselves or the company “into public disrepute”. 

This means it is 100% up to Blizzard to determine what its competitors can or cannot say, according to the company’s interpretation of public opinion. Normally, this should be a task left up to the interpretation of an unbiased jury, but the company rules dictate that it must be decided internally. Because Blizzard has a financial stake in the Chinese government’s sociopolitical scene, its board can’t be objective, and absolutely will (and did) allow their financial interests to take priority over its players right to express themselves.

In fact, Blizzard adds insult to injury by claiming in its official statement that it “[stands] by one’s right to express individual thoughts and opinions,” while it actively oppresses its competitors right to do exactly that.

This is unacceptable. Blizzard needs to take responsibility for its actions. The company and its higher-ups have fired two innocent people-- for reasons that no jury in their right mind would justify-- and told the world that China’s good graces are more important to them than a person’s right to hold an opinion and peacefully protest: to solve the situation Blizzard has presented to itself, we believe that the company should do the following:

  1. Change the competition rules to more clearly support freedom of speech in accordance with the regulations of hate speech.
  2. Withdraw “blitzchung” Ng Wai Chung’s competitive suspension and provide him with his fairly earned prize money.
  3. Provide the two ex-casters with either, A: positions of equal or greater value than those they previously held, or B: fair financial compensation for their sudden, unjust firing.
  4. Submit a formal, public apology to those involved. 

At the current point in time, we feel that these measures are the least Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. and its board could do to correct its abhorrent handling of the situation. 

Please help us tell Blizzard they’re the ones putting themselves “into public disrepute” by enabling & supporting injustice and oppressing their supporters’ freedom of speech!