Taiwan Thanks NBA Player Enes Kanter for Supporting Its Democracy

By Fran Wang
Fran Wang
Fran Wang
November 15, 2021 Updated: November 15, 2021

NBA player Enes Kanter repeatedly called for people to  “stand with Taiwan” these days, and reiterated that “Taiwan is not a part of China.” Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen responded directly to Kanter’s tweet, thanking him for his support. 

Boston Celtics center Kanter has made headlines several times for his videos voicing support for ethnic minorities under Beijing’s repressive rule, and for Hong Kong’s struggling pro-democracy movement.

Kanter said he supported Taiwan’s self-governance in a video posted on Nov. 12. “Taiwan is a democratic and free country, and I support Taiwan,” he stated. 

In the video, Kanter wore a shirt printed with the words “Taiwan is NOT China.” He reiterated that the world must stand with Taiwan, support it, and defend its democracy.

Kanter further criticized China’s leader Xi Jinping for both claiming Taiwan is part of China, and repeatedly threatening to invade Taiwan.

Tsai thanked Kanter directly in response to his tweet for standing with Taiwan, and vowed to “always defend our hard-earned freedom and democracy.”

Tsai said in the attached video that the support from international friends like Kanter “gives us strength.” She also cheered the NBA player, saying Taiwan’s basketball fans “are rooting for him.”

Kanter exclaimed on Nov. 13 that he is honored by Tsai’s “kind words,” and hopes to visit the “wonderful nation,” learn about its culture, taste its delicious food, and meet the “brave people.”

Enes Kanter also tweeted his support for Tibet, Hong Kong, and Uighurs in China, resulting in the removal of all live-streaming of Celtics games in China last month.

Kanter’s tweet on Nov. 10 asserted that “Taiwan will never surrender to the evil Chinese Communist Party.” #StandWithTaiwan “The future of Taiwan must be determined by the Taiwanese people.” 

#IslandOfResilience  #FreedomShoes

In the tweet, Kanter posted photos of customized sneakers that displayed a man holding a banner reading “Stand with Taiwan” on one shoe, and another with a group holding a sign saying “Taiwan belongs to the Taiwanese people.” 

The veteran center has worn sneakers on the court to support his vocal causes this season. The custom paint job was done by Chinese dissident artist Badiucao, who lives in Australia.

In a recent interview with CNN, Kanter explained: “People think I do politics, I don’t do politics. I do human rights.”

Kanter, who was raised in Turkey, has spoken out against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He has not seen his family since 2015, as Turkey allegedly canceled his passport.

Kanter said he is committed to using his platform to advocate for change, and will continue to educate himself on various human rights issues concerning China.

Beijing views self-governing Taiwan to be its territory, although the communist regime has never ruled the island.

Taiwan has developed into a vibrant democracy with its own democratically elected government, and is home to 23 million people. But China has increasingly threatened Taipei, with a record number of Chinese warplanes flying near Taiwan in recent weeks.

The Chinese regime has long declared “reunification” as the goal of ending Taiwan’s de facto independence and self-rule, and has refused to abandon the use of force to achieve that goal.

Taiwan received a harsh rebuke from Beijing after welcoming a delegation of U.S. congress members last week. In early November, members of the European Parliament, led by prominent Beijing critic Raphael Glucksmann, also visited the island.

Fran Wang