China is considering banning the nuclear submarine due to sanctions. The league has already disappeared from the main channel of the country – Beetle in the anthill – Blogs
The conflict began in Hong Kong, at the center of the 5G tower controversy.
On 23 July, the whole world enjoyed the Liverpool-Chelsea super match. All except China – possibly the Premier League’s main marketing point.
The game was on the grid of CCTV, the first state-owned Chinese channel (fully subordinate to the authorities), which since 2015 owns the rights to the Premier League in China and broadcasts four matches per round.
Suddenly and without warning, the match was not shown. According to Bloomberg, the game was moved to CCTV-5 Plus, a special sports channel available to a significantly smaller audience.
Coventry University professor and expert on Asia and the Middle East, Simon Chadwick, tweeted a few details.
• Instead of the Premier League, CCTV broadcast a replay of the Euro 2016 match France – Iceland.
• The nearest tour is also under threat. The schedule (it was found by Chadwick) is only “MU” – “Leicester” on the same CCTV-5 Plus (but not the fact that it will be shown). There will be no football on the public channel at all.
For this coming Sunday, aside from Leicester City v Manchester United on CCTV5 +, no PL matches are now scheduled to be broadcast of any CCTV platform pic.twitter.com/8LkT9DJjHf
– Professor Simon Chadwick (@Prof_Chadwick) 23 July 2020
CCTV did not comment on the cancellation of broadcasts, and several Chinese newspapers blamed technical problems. But it seems that the matter is different: the Premier League got into the political mix of China and Britain. And the consequences can be very serious.
UK and China clash over law that allows protesters in Hong Kong to be imprisoned for life
First, an ultra-short historical background.
Hong Kong is a special territory. In 1842, it was captured by Great Britain and was called British Hong Kong, with most of it officially leased to Britain in 1898 for 99 years. In 1997, Hong Kong was returned to China, but with conditions.
The countries agreed that at least until 2047, the region will live according to the principle of “one country – two systems”, that is, it will maintain economic and political autonomy from mainland China. Hong Kong was even given the status of a special administrative center, which implies greater independence.
But in fact, China has constantly sought to establish its authority in the region. On June 30, the country’s parliament adopted the “National Security Law”: a State Security Committee (which reports directly to China) is created in Hong Kong, and any protest movements are equated with separatism and terrorism and provide for life in prison. The wording in the law is as vague as possible; even a person with a poster can be called a terrorist.
The law is already shaping a new reality in Hong Kong: residents rip anti-Chinese posters from shops and homes and are removed from social media.
The harsh law is condemned by many countries, but primarily by Great Britain, for which Hong Kong is still no stranger.
• Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to issue British residency permits to all Hong Kong residents holding British overseas passports (UK Overseas Citizenship) and their immediate family. By this type, you can come to the UK for five years: to live, work or study (with a basic visa, the maximum stay is six months).
• British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab condemned China for human rights violations. Then he temporarily canceled the extradition agreement with China and introduced a ban on the sale of weapons to the Asian country, which extends to Hong Kong.
• The biggest blow fell on business – China was deprived of billions. The UK has been rolling out ultra-fast mobile 5G for several years now. In the spring of 2020, they signed a contract for the supply of equipment with Chinese Huawei, but on July 14 they canceled the contract and banned the company from participating in the project until 2027.
The formal reason for the failure is the unreliability of the chips. In May, the US imposed sanctions on China, including banning Huawei from using chips based on American technology. At the same time, Trump attacked the Chinese and said that through the supply of their equipment they want to spy on American customers.
Britain elegantly twisted the story: the local National Cybersecurity Center decided that Huawei’s new chips were not reliable enough. On the one hand, it is unprofitable for Britain to abandon Huawei (Boris Johnson explained that the launch of 5G will have to be postponed for 2-3 years, and the price will increase by 2-3 billion), on the other hand, the Chinese were abandoned exactly two weeks after the adoption of the law.
It seems that in China, too, they regarded this as a direct attack. The Shanghai Huangqiu Shibao newspaper called for “punishing Western enemies,” and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Wenbin accused Britain of working for Trump.
“Recently, the British side has repeatedly made statements about Hong Kong, interfering in the internal affairs of China,” says statement Embassy of China in London. “The PRC will definitely take decisive countermeasures in response to such actions.”
And two days later, the Premier League disappeared from Chinese television. “Given the problems with Huawei, football is most likely caught in the crossfire,” said Simon Chadwick.
The threat is very serious: four clubs have Chinese owners, Tottenham have a sponsor from China
Now the most interesting thing is the consequences. Events are developing very slowly and it is not yet clear how far everything will go. But the Premier League is clearly in a weak position – the league is highly dependent on the Chinese market and local investors.
1) The contract between the Premier League and CCTV may suffer. The agreement is valid from the 2019/20 season and is designed for three years. According to it, the Premier League receives 700 million euros. It is the largest buyer of nuclear submarines outside Britain. The details of the contract are unknown, but China can simply backtrack and end the tranches.
2) Loss of audience.
According to Bloomberg estimates, as of December 2019, 27 million people in China, 1.5 billion, were interested in English football. By 2024, the figure should reach 45 million, because Asia is the main marketing target of the Premier League
All top English clubs have long established Weibo pages (Manchester United and Arsenal have five million subscribers), go on Asian tours, where they are afraid of offending local fans by not releasing the main star in an exhibition match – after all, everyone is fighting for the Chinese market …
Banning English football on free TV will surely quench fan interest. There will remain broadcasts through the PPTV app (a popular Chinese streaming service), but its audience is significantly lower than that of CCTV. The Bundesliga will definitely be happy about this, which is already ahead of the Premier League in terms of audience growth in China, although England is still the leader in absolute numbers.
If the conflict between the countries continues (which is very likely for now), China may go further. Then English football is threatened by the same thing that happened to the American cartoon South Park. They openly mocked the Chinese authorities (we analyzed in detail here) and local censorship, and in response, China erased the cartoon from the local Internet: not a single mention, not a single link.
Ok, the true fans of the Premier League will start pirating, but the majority will choose the German clubs – and the English will lose the market for a long time.
3) And most alarming: Chinese owners may simply take money from the submarine…
We already knowthat the rich Middle Eastern and Asian countries are very fond of integrating into the Western world. This usually happens through business, very often through sports. “Inter”, “Milan”, a tour of Asia – for the last five years, China has been constantly in our feed.
The problem is that there is a LOT of Chinese money in the English Premier League for 2020. Wolverhampton is owned by the Chinese company Fosun (also owns a 51% stake in the Hangzhou-Shaoxing-Ningbo high-speed railway), Southampton is in the hands of businessman Jisheng Gao, Lai Guochuan invests in West Brom, and Aston Villa is owned by the Chinese holding Recon Group.
Even City Football Group in 2015 sold a 15% stake in City to a consortium of Chinese investors, China Media Capital Holdings.
Other clubs have sponsors from China. Since 2013, Tottenham has been sponsored by the Shanghai insurance company AIA: over eight years, the club will receive 320 million pounds.
And there is a risk that China will pull all those billions out of English football. How? Simple: British Sky suggests that in the event of a real political war, China could impose sanctions on its citizens who invest in British businesses.
Not only nuclear submarines are at risk, but also France
And here, too, it all started with 5G. French operators are faced with a choice – to buy equipment from Huawei or European Nokia and Ericsson.
In June, French cybersecurity agency ANSSI said it would allow operators to use Huawei equipment and would issue a license for a period of three to eight years.
But then the details appeared. According to the Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post, the license for Huawei equipment will be issued for three to five years without renewal, and for equipment of competitors – for eight years.
This is a very important nuance – it takes at least eight years to recoup the investment in the equipment. It will become simply unprofitable to buy Huawei, although it will not be formally prohibited from doing this.
In some cases (which are not specified), operators will still be given an eight-year permit for Huawei, but only as an exception. In fact, the French authorities are also squeezing the Chinese company out of the market, only they are doing it quieter and more accurately. But it is unlikely that China will not figure out this plan. Follow Ligue 1 announcements on CCTV.
This is not the first time sport has lost money due to a political war with China: Arsenal’s matches were blocked because of Ozil, the NBA lost at least 700 million
As you know, the Chinese authorities are very sensitive to any criticism. The scheme has already been worked out: someone from the Western world is hinting that not everything is all right in China – China is offended – the hint is being erased from the information field of China.
In December 2019, Arsenal’s substitute Mesut Ozil spoke out powerfully on the topic of repression of the Uyghurs in China (it seems, not without reason). Arsenal assessed the business risks and released a post on Weibo (one of the most popular social networks in China with 500 million users) and publicly pulled back from Mesut’s position. The message is clear: the monetary risk is too great to harness these wars.
It didn’t help: CCTV canceled the broadcast of the Arsenal – Manchester City match. But for the first time, the Chinese forgave their partners, there were no other consequences for the club. And Ozil got worse: he was removed from the Chinese search engines, his fan pages in social networks were blocked, and he was removed from the Chinese versions of PES and FIFA.
But the NBA suffered more serious. In early October 2019, the Houston Rockets general manager on Twitter supported the Hong Kong protests and, of course, infuriated Chinese politicians. The NBA, unlike Arsenal, went all the way and stood up for Mori (more precisely, for freedom of speech) and lost at least $ 700 million for TV broadcasts.
Almost a year has passed since then, and the relationship has not warmed up. In May, there were rumors about the return of the league on the air, but the Chinese have already denied everything.
“CCTV denies rumors of a resumption of NBA broadcasts and reaffirms the persistence of positions on China’s national sovereignty,” the Global Times tweeted.
Now the Premier League runs the risk of joining the NBA.
Photo: Gettyimages.ru/ Billy HC Kwok, Leon Neal, Yifan Ding, Lintao Zhang, Kevin Frayer