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Posted by Eric Mu on Tuesday, August 12, 2008 at 2:06 PM
Luan Jujie, the 50-year-old Chinese-Canadian fencer, displayed a "patriotic" banner after she lost her second-round match against Hungary's Aida Mohamed in the women's individual foil on August 11.
Her action won cheers from newspapers nationwide, including the New Express and the Chinese Business View. The three Chinese characters on the banner,are a little ambiguous: they can be reasonably interpreted as a greeting, "Hello, homeland," or an affirmation, "Homeland is good". Luan explained that she prepared the banner for the opening ceremony on August 8, but "no banners were allowed in the stadium."
Luan played for China at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, winning a gold medal, China's only Olympic gold in fencing so far. A popular fictionalized version of her story, written by Xu Chi, made her a national hero and a household name back in the 80s.
In 1989, Luan immigrated to Canada and later received Canadian citizenship. She plays in the Beijing Olympic Games on behalf of her adopted country: Canada.
Luan is not the only athlete who left China to play for another country. One of the most famous overseas Chinese players, ping-pong player He Zhili, left the Chinese national team after refusing to throw matches to teammates. She married a Japanese national and competed under her husband's surname as Koyama Chire.
In the 1994 Asian Games she beat the Chinese athlete Deng Yaping, then the world-champion, and caused quite a bit controversy in China by shouting Japanese while competing and answering journalists' questions only in that language. Some Chinese people interpreted her actions as a clear signal of "betrayal".
It maybe interesting to wonder: what if Luan didn't fail in the second-round, but claimed the gold after beating a Chinese athelete? Would she be treated just like Koyama Chire, despite her banner?
Links and Sources
Jobs in China
Henry on The Eurasian Face
Caroline W on Big in China
Michael on Julia Lovell on translating Lu Xun's complete fiction: "His is an angry, searing vision of China"
Brandon K. on Clueless academic takes on popular fantasy novels
China Media Timeline
Major media events over the last three decades
Danwei Model Workers
The latest recommended blogs and new media
Books on China
The Eurasian Face : Blacksmith Books, a publishing house in Hong Kong, is behind The Eurasian Face, a collection of photographs by Kirsteen Zimmern. Below is an excerpt from the series:
Big in China: An adapted excerpt from Big In China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising A Family, Playing The Blues and Becoming A Star in China, just published this month. Author Alan Paul tells the story of arriving in Beijing as a trailing spouse, starting a blues band, raising kids and trying to make sense of China.
Pallavi Aiyar's Chinese Whiskers: Pallavi Aiyar's first novel, Chinese Whiskers, a modern fable set in contemporary Beijing, will be published in January 2011. Aiyar currently lives in Brussels where she writes about Europe for the Business Standard. Below she gives permissions for an excerpt.
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+ Korean history doesn't fly on Chinese TV screens (2007.09): SARFT puts the kibbosh on Korean historical dramas.
+ Religion and government in an uneasy mix (2008.03): Phoenix Weekly (凤凰周刊) article from October, 2007, on government influence on religious practice in Tibet.
+ David Moser on Mao impersonators (2004.10): I first became aware of this phenomenon in 1992 when I turned on a Beijing TV variety show and was jolted by the sight of "Mao Zedong" and "Zhou Enlai" playing a game of ping pong. They both gave short, rousing speeches, and then were reverently interviewed by the emcee, who thanked them profusely for taking time off from their governmental duties to appear on the show.