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Bill Maher dunks on LeBron James, Eileen Gu, and John Cena for kowtowing to 'totalitarian police state' China

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Kevin Winter/Getty Images/Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Bill Maher did not hold back in his recent rant targeting athletes and entertainers who have kowtowed to China. The "Real Time with Bill Maher" host blasted LeBron James, Eileen Gu, and John Cena for allegedly putting profits over principles when it comes to speaking out against China's human rights abuses.

Maher highlighted American-born freestyle skier Eileen Gu who decided to compete in the 2022 Winter Olympics for her mother's home country of China. Gu, 18, has reportedly pocketed at least $31 million from sponsorship deals with more than 20 deals with Chinese companies, including the Bank of China.

Maher accused Gu of choosing to "represent a totalitarian police state over America."

"The Olympics pretends to only be about sports but of course, the games have always been a bit of a proxy war for which country has the best system," Maher said on Friday night's episode. "And by choosing Team China, Eileen Gu became a living symbol of China's triumph over the West, which wouldn't bother me so much if I thought China had triumphed over us in the ways that really matter. But they haven't."

Maher admitted that the United States has some human rights issues, but explains that the U.S. is a "democracy based on freedom" compared to China, which he described as an "authoritarian surveillance state based on 'How would you like to disappear for a few months?'"

The HBO talk show host spotlighted the situation involving Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai who previously accused Chinese Communist Party member Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault. Shuai went missing after making the accusations.

"Like that tennis player [Peng Shuai] who recently vanished for a while when she said she had been raped by a government official," Maher continued. "We do still throw too many black people in jail, but perspective matters."

"China has basically jailed an entire ethnic minority, the Uyghurs, a situation that both the Trump and Biden administrations have called a genocide," he noted. "America is not close to that. And it's a cynical dodge to pretend China's sins should be overlooked because we all do it. No."

Maher recalled when Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said he stood with the pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong. In 2019, LeBron James said Morey was "misinformed" about calling for democracy in Hong Kong. James reportedly questioned NBA Commissioner Adam Silver as to why Morey wasn't punished for his support of pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong, which damaged the league's relationship with China.

"In America, we're supposed to root for democratic government, not apologize for it," Maher declared. "But the NBA has a television deal with China worth a billion-and-a-half dollars. So LeBron James said Morey needed to be ‘educated on the situation,' the situation being, 'I've got some shoes to sell.'"

Maher slammed Google for enacting censorship in order to access the Chinese market.

"'Kowtow' is a Chinese word but boy, Americans have gotten good at it," Maher claimed.

"That's the deal China offers American companies and celebrities: 'We'll give you access to our billion-plus consumers as long as you shut up about the whole police-state-genocide thing.' John Cena took that deal."

"China accounts for 34% of global box office and he's a movie star now," Maher said of Cena. "So, like the Uyghurs, last year, he learned he needed to get some re-education. You see, John referred to Taiwan as a country as if [it] were a separate country from China, which it is! But China would like to do Taiwan what it did to Tibet and what it's doing now to Hong Kong."

Cena – the wrestling star-turned actor – issued a video apology in 2021 to the Chinese government for referring to Taiwan as a "country."

"When a country can make your big muscly macho man action star grovel in their language, you know you're somebody's b*tch," Maher joked.

Maher remembered how the trailer for the "Top Gun: Maverick" movie deleted the Taiwan flag from the bomber jacket of Tom Cruise's character Pete "Maverick" Mitchell. CNN reported, "Several Twitter users quickly pointed out that Chinese tech giant Tencent is one of Paramount's partners on the movie, which is slated to release next summer."

Maher continued, "The definition of 'woke' was supposed to be being alert to injustice in society. But because the 'woke' now see race first and everything else never, fear of being accused of racism has given a free pass on human rights abuses to China and any other places that are perceived as non-white. If China was in Europe, would they get away with having concentration camps without more of an outcry from America?"

"Someone has to tell me where we got this rule that you can't criticize China because I suspect we got it from China. Because after all, it's where we get everything else," Maher concluded.

(WARNING: Explicit language)

New Rule: Stop Kowtowing to China | Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO) www.youtube.com

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