Feature

‘Linsanity’ spreads to the Far East

Not only sport fans, but everyone in Taiwan is delighted by the sudden rise of Taiwanese-American basketball sensation Jeremy Lin.

An epidemic of “Linfluenza” is sweeping Taiwan, said Joe Doufu in the Taipei Times. Not only sport fans, but everyone in this country is delighted by the sudden rise of Taiwanese-American basketball sensation Jeremy Lin. “Linmania is spreading across Taiwan faster than a busload of Chinese tourists.” Kids are cutting their hair like his. Factories are churning out Knicks jerseys and jackets that say Lin 17. Travel agents are already putting together Lin tours to New York, complete with tickets to Knicks games. Even the politicians have succumbed. President Ma Ying-jeou has held up Lin as “a shining example of teamwork that his cabinet should do its best to follow.”

It’s not just Taiwan—China claims Lin, too, said Amber Wang, also in the Times. He is already as well known there as Yao Ming, the Houston Rocket who was China’s first international sports star. Lin’s maternal grandmother is from China, leading to “outlandish calls for him to represent China in the upcoming Olympics.” The Chinese national news service, Xinhua, ran a story emphasizing that Lin’s ancestors “hail from Zhejiang province,” but it conceded that he would have to renounce his U.S. citizenship in order to play for China. This attempt to usurp a Taiwanese hero rankles the Lins in Taiwan. “He is Taiwanese, a true Taiwanese, and some remarks that he is not are wrong,” says Lin’s paternal grandmother, who lives here. It’s certainly annoying  that China is trying to claim him, said the Taipei Apple Daily in an editorial. Lin is not theirs. But then, he’s not ours, either. “We should not force him to identify himself as Taiwanese or Chinese. His nationality is American, and he is an American.”

No, he’s “Chinese-American,” said the Beijing China Daily. And his incredible athletic prowess is something for China to be proud of. “Lin’s success can help change the stereotypes and prejudice regarding Chinese-Americans in the U.S.” Chinese-Americans are said to be good at math, not sports. They are thought of as doctors and scientists. Yet now, thanks to Lin’s achievement, there is “a new American dream for Chinese-Americans.” And for us, in China, he will help reignite our passion for basketball, which has faded since Yao Ming retired last year.

“The Chinese public is indeed yearning for more stars like Yao Ming,” said Yu Jincui in the Beijing Global Times. But why do we have to find them abroad? Must we revere an American just because he has Chinese ancestry? It seems like yet another example of China’s “cultural inferiority complex.” Remember the last time we got so excited about a Chinese-American, said Zheng Yi, also in the Global Times. Gary Locke, the first Chinese-American to become the governor of a U.S. state, came here as U.S. ambassador last year. He “instantly won the appreciation and kindness of the Chinese people,” who believed he would help improve relations with the U.S. But our “hopes were dashed” when Locke spouted the same tired rhetoric about human rights and trade protectionism. We came to realize that Locke “was but an American.” Truly being Chinese is not just a matter of blood.

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