Shameful: ESPN Uses Chinese Map Which Promotes Their Claim to Taiwan, Other Territories

Screenshot is from this video
Screenshot is from this video

ESPN is now facing more backlash after using a map which promoted the Chinese claim to own Taiwan and as well as other territories in the South China sea.


The use of the map occurred during ESPN’s “Sports Center,” as they were covering the arrival of NBA players in China and the network covered the controversy surrounding the NBA and China. As Reuters notes, such maps are used locally by China to push their claims. The maps are controversial because of the dispute and are not accepted internationally.

They used a different map in relation to covering the China story earlier in the week.

They also towed the Chinese line in referring to Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters as “anti-government.”

ESPN had already stepped into the controversy earlier in the week when they reportedly told their shows not to cover what was going on in Hong Kong, but to stick solely to sports angles, according to Deadspin.


What you didn’t hear was much discussion about what is actually happening on the ground with protestors in Hong Kong, why they’re protesting, or any other acknowledgment of China’s political situation, past or present.

This could be because Chuck Salituro, the senior news director of ESPN, sent a memo to shows mandating that any discussion of the Daryl Morey story avoid any political discussions about China and Hong Kong, and instead focus on the related basketball issues. The memo, obtained by Deadspin, explicitly discouraged any political discussion about China and Hong Kong. Multiple ESPN sources confirmed to Deadspin that network higher-ups were keeping a close eye on how the topic was discussed on ESPN’s airwaves.

Deadspin observes wryly that ESPN had a different position when it came to talking about the anthem protests and President Donald Trump.

Last year, then-newly appointed ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro said this about when ESPN would cover politics:

There is the intersection between sports and politics. When Tiger is talking about the president, when the anthem story, every time that there is an intersection, ESPN is the place of record. Of course, when you tune into ESPN, we should be, we need to be covering those stories, if there is a connection to sports.

This particular story fits with Pitaro’s definition of politics and sports overlap, and yet ESPN execs still felt the need to send out a “stick to sports” mandate in order to guide coverage. The only question that remains now is whether they did so because Pitaro has narrowed the window for when ESPN is allowed to talk about politics even further than he had previously stated, or because ESPN is worried about pissing off Tencent, the massive Chinese internet company that it struck a deal with in 2016.


As Reuters points out, ESPN also has a multibillion dollar deal with the NBA who has substantial business dealings with China. ESPN is additionally owned by Disney which has its own substantial business interests with China.

This action by ESPN is not just a shameful sellout of our ally Taiwan and the other territories to the communists, but also a sellout of our values and American positions on the subject for almost 70 years.

The whole controversy is so troubling because it reveals just how deeply China has insinuated itself into the control of our media, entertainment and business.

Time, long past time, to start cutting the cords.



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