Magic: The Gathering pro Lee Shi Tian expressed support for Hong Kong protesters in an interview after his win at the Mythic Championship held last weekend (via Kotaku).
Under a ‘one country, two systems’ arrangement, Hong Kong is a former British colony that was given to China in 1997. It has a certain level of autonomy within the country, and the proposed extradition bill is perceived to threaten the freedoms of Hong Kongers in relation to China. If the bill is passed, Hong Kong would be required to send criminal suspects to China upon a case-by-case basis. Citizens have reacted extremely negatively to the implications that activists and journalists who criticise China could be targeted by the bill.
Earlier this month, Hearthstone winner Ng ‘blitzchung’ Wai Chung voiced his support for Hong Kong protestors in an interview and Blizzard’s reaction has seriously damaged its image and boosted pro-democracy demonstrations. Though it reversed some of its sanctions placed upon Blitzschung and said that its decisions were not governed by its relationships with Chinese stakeholders, its community rebuked the developer and began a #BoycottBlizzard movement.
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney spoke to The Verge and said that Fortnite pros would not be punished for using official streams to voice their own opinions, and it seems to be the same case for Magic: The Gathering players, too. Tian appeared on the tournament stage wearing a red scarf over his face and held one hand over his eye as the camera followed him. Hong Kongers have been wearing masks to protect themselves from tear gas thrown by authorities and to disguise themselves. The covering of one eye references a journalist who was hit in the eye with a rubber bullet, which shattered the bones in her eye socket and almost cost her her sight.
Interviewed after his victory against Carlos Romanos, Tian said, ‘Life has been very tough in my hometown in Hong Kong. It feels so good to play as a free man!’ Magic: The Gathering fans have rallied around Tian, and applauded him for using his platform to draw attention to Hong Kong. On Twitter, he also explained that the struggles his hometown has faced motivated him to ‘shine brighter’, and thanked those who have supported him.
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