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What Key Lessons Can African Countries Learn from the China-NBA Dispute

James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets sits on the bench prior to a game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum on March 26, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. STACY REVERE / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

DISCLAIMER: The article raises a number of sensitive issues that are intended to inform and educate stakeholders in the China-Africa relationship about key political issues in China that influence current events. CAP Managing Editor Eric Olander, nor anyone else at the CAP, does not advocate for or against any of the positions raised in this article. The CAP does not engage in advocacy of any kind.

For more than a decade, the Houston Rockets were the preeminent NBA team in China. Go to any of the outdoor basketball courts in Shanghai, Beijing or most major cities and you’ll see kids and adults wearing expensive Rockets gear. The Rockets, in particular, are a special team for the Chinese given that was the home for China’s now-legendary basketball star Yao Ming who played there from 2002 to 2011.

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What is The China-Global South Project?


The China-Global South Project is passionately independent, non-partisan and does not advocate for any country, company or culture.


A carefully curated selection of the day’s most important China-Global South stories. Updated 24 hours a day by human editors. No bots, no algorithms.


Diverse, often unconventional insights from scholars, analysts, journalists and a variety of stakeholders in the China-Global South discourse.


A unique professional network of China-Africa scholars, analysts, journalists and other practioners from around the world.