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Chinese-Canadian fencer applauded for displaying "patrotic" banner

New Express
August 12, 2008

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, 祖国好 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.

china business.jpg
Chinese Business View
August 12, 2008

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?

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There are currently 11 Comments for Chinese-Canadian fencer applauded for displaying "patrotic" banner.

Comments on Chinese-Canadian fencer applauded for displaying "patrotic" banner

No ambiguity at all: it definitely means "hello homeland"

Canada should take away her citizenship and send her back to China.

"what if Luan didn't fail in the second-round, but claimed the gold after beating a Chinese athelete?"

She would be branded a traitor for sure; or else China would claim that the gold was really theirs due to a blurring of the distinction between nationality and race.

Why? Canada is already a Chinese colony...

Glad that most people ("Little Piggy" above excluded) see no conflict of interest in such sentiment, Luan Jujie saluting the country of birth while defending the title for another that accepted her. A noble gesture, and Canada should be proud of her are the Chinese.

He Zhili felt betrayed and probably suffered worse demands besides having to throw matches for her team mates, and so would not acknowledge she was once Chinese, remaking herself as Koyama Chire. That gesture should shame China. How bad does it have to get for a person to deny their birth, even their mother tongue?

a vain attempt at having one's cake and eating it too by a shameless athletic mercenary.

In the US, you would see people wearing T-shirts with "Proud of being Polish", "I love Ireland", or bumper stickers like "Happiness is being Italian" and such. And I don't see anything wrong with it. After all, loving Ireland (Italy or any other country) and loving the US are NOT mutually exclusive.

I would look at Ms. Luan's action in a similar vein. In fact, I applaud it! I confess that I even got a little choked up reading about it, as a proud newly minted American citizen who loves both China and the United States. I see nothing wrong with showing gratitude toward one's place of origin. That's not to say that everything in one's place of origin is all hunky dory and one agrees with everything that is going on there.

Anyway that is my own interpretation of it. Obviously only Ms. Luan knows what exactly she meant.

It is a shame that Koyama Chire got a lot of bashing initially from quite a number of people. Her then boastful attitude and yelling in Japanese while competing on Chinese soil didn't help things (I am not saying there is anything wrong with it though.) Things have changed since then. I've read reports that Koyama Chire visits Shanghai very frequently and maintains deep personal and business connections there. A year or so ago, there is an interesting article in Shanghai media that talked about her experience, very sympathetic to her side of story.

I see no problem if she won the gold. However, then her banner will receive much less media coverage in China.

"China would claim that the gold was really theirs due to a blurring of the distinction between nationality and race."

Silly as usual.

The really interesting contrast is that the greeting to China banner won't cause any stir at all in Canada. Canada recognize her Chinese citizenship to begin with. China may have trouble with that. But that is an unfair comparison. Canadians are so much more civilized.

The story should really be why the clear double standards over censorship of banners? The rules in the fencing arena are exactly the same as in all Olympic venues including the National Stadium: no banners or slogans of any type are permitted.

I can guarantee that if a banner was held up in English or French (like the Senegal team at the opening ceremony parade) the marshalls would have been onto it in a split second and bundled the offender off the stage. But it seems if you have a politically approved slogan in Chinese then that's a completely different matter.

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