On Wednesday, the National Football League announced a new international home marketing program for select franchises.
"NFL announced that 18 teams have been granted access to 26 International Home Marketing Areas (IHMA) across eight different countries," the NFL statement said. "This ground-breaking, new initiative grants clubs access to international territories for marketing, fan engagement and commercialization as part of an important, long-term, strategic effort to enable clubs to build their global brands while driving NFL fan growth internationally."
The NFL posted a world map on Twitter showing which teams would be promoted and in what international markets.
As the map made the rounds on social media, keen-eyed commentators noticed that the map showed China colored red as well as Taiwan — also called the Republic of China. Online critics questioned why the NFL included Taiwan as part of China when it is a separate, independent nation.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) slammed the sports league, "The NFL, which is chasing dollars from the Chinese Communist Party, shows Taiwan as part of China. Disgraceful cowardice."
Rep. Carlos A. Gimenez (R-Fla.) also blasted the National Football League, "Hey @NFL, why are you depicting China and Taiwan as the same country? Do you not believe in the freedom of Taiwan? Stop shilling for the #CCP. It’s shameful to profit off the oppression of the Taiwanese people and the slavery of the Uyghurs."
Columnist Jon Gabriel asked, "Why do you include Taiwan as part of China? Taiwan is an independent country."
Writer Ian Miles Cheong tweeted, "The NFL caves to communist China and falsely lists Taiwan as a part of Chinese territory."
Republican political operative Logan Dobson reacted by saying, "Just the @NFL erasing the independent nation of Taiwan to suck up to genocidal Chinese Communists for money."
Author Dan K. Eberhart pointed out, "The @NFL and @NBA can virtue signal about human rights all they want. Your words mean absolutely nothing if you're too cowardly to put human rights above making money in China's market."
The Economist's China affairs editor Gady Epstein quipped, "NFL seems to have decided which team Taiwan is on."
Sarah McLaughlin – director of targeted advocacy at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education – responded by saying, "I would love to hear how the NFL is planning (if at all) to deal with the free speech challenges that will inevitably develop here. Their initial response to these issues in the U.S. was bad enough; what can we expect if they get their own NBA/China-type controversy?"
The Los Angeles Rams are assigned to China, so Fox News contributor Johnny "Joey" Jones asked the team, "Do you endorse this erasure of an entire country?"
Brendan Carr – commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission – shared a map depicting Taiwan as its own country with the caption: "Fixed it for you, @NFL."
The NFL did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News.
In November, the CCP declared that it would punish enterprises that support Taiwan's independence from mainland China.
"We welcome Taiwan-based enterprises to invest and develop in the mainland and will continue to protect their legitimate rights and interests in accordance with the law," Zhu Fenglian, the spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office, said, according to Business Insider. "But we will never allow those that support Taiwan independence or damage cross-Straits relations to make money on the mainland. They and their associated companies and financiers must be punished in accordance with the law."
Also last month, China's Taiwan Affairs Office in Beijing warned, "The mainland will pursue criminal responsibility for Taiwan independence diehards in accordance with the law, to be effective for life," the Daily Mail reported.
During President Joe Biden's Summit for Democracy earlier this month, the video feed of a slideshow presentation from Taiwanese Digital Minister Audrey Tang abruptly stopped. There are reports that the White House censored the presentation because it promoted Taiwan as separate from China – which would be a violation of the "One-China policy" that only recognizes the People’s Republic of China and not the Republic of China. U.S. and Taiwan officials blamed "technical problems" for the disruption that caused the video to fail.
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