China's state-controlled media outlets have told their reporters to de-emphasize coverage of the ongoing tension between the country and the NBA, report Keith Bradsher and Javier C. Hernandez of The New York Times.
"I think this issue will gradually de-escalate - Global Times will not push to keep it hot," Hu Xijin, the outlet's top editor, told Bradsher and Hernandez in a written comment. "I also hope the American side won't make any moves to escalate it."
Officials in Beijing reportedly fear international focus on China's feud with the NBA could bear a negative impact on ongoing trade talks with the U.S. government, and that the issue could invite scrutiny over the country's role as host of the 2022 Winter Olympics.
The uproar began one week ago when Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted an image in support of the ongoing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
Though Morey's tweet garnered immediate backlash from Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta, the NBA ultimately reaffirmed its support of freedom of expression - while acknowledging the swift financial repercussions the saga has wrought.
The issue has already reached the upper levels of U.S. politics. President Donald Trump addressed the issue Wednesday, but pledged his administration would leave the NBA to "work out their own situation." Additionally, a bipartisan group including Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Republican senator Ted Cruz issued a joint statement urging the NBA to suspend business in China until the country's "government-controlled broadcasters and ... commercial sponsors end their boycott of NBA activities."