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Ex-NBA Player Dwight Howard Causes Controversy in China by Referring to Taiwan as a Country

May 15, 2023 ChinaTaiwan Events & Announcements

BEIJING – Ex-NBA player Dwight Howard received a barrage of criticism on Chinese social media for referring to Taiwan as a country in a promotional film with the vice president of Taiwan.

The US basketball player was seen in the film, which was made public on Wednesday, promoting an initiative to encourage a select group of foreign tourists to spend the night in Taiwan’s presidential office building.

“Hello everyone, I’m Dwight Howard, and since I have come to Taiwan I have gained a whole new appreciation of this country,” he said in the video.

Taiwan is a self-governing island, although China asserts that it is a part of “one China” that is administered from Beijing. China asserts that it will never give up using force to uphold its rights.

The island is prohibited from many international organizations due to China’s assertion that Taiwan is not a nation, and its athletes participate in international competitions under the name “Chinese Taipei.”

After the video’s debut, the criticism did not take long to develop. On China’s Weibo social media site, the hashtag #HowardTaiwanindependence gained a lot of attention, receiving nearly 400 million hits by Friday.

Many individuals charged Howard with advocating Taiwan’s independence, which Beijing despises.

The Taoyuan Leopards are a professional Taiwanese team that Howard joined last year. A request for comment from the most well-known player to have ever competed in Taiwan’s T1 League was not immediately answered.

William Lai, vice president and candidate for president of Taiwan in the coming year, made an appearance alongside Howard while posing as the director of the film in which Lai calls Taiwan a “free country.”

The administration of the island denies China’s claims to sovereignty and asserts that only the Taiwanese people have the power to determine their future.

The NBA is quite well-liked in China, and this wasn’t the first time that someone connected to the league had caused a stir there.

Chinese television stopped showing Houston Rockets games in 2019 when general manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support for anti-government demonstrations in Hong Kong.

Enes Kanter, a center for the Boston Celtics, raised similar concerns about China’s treatment of Muslims and members of the Uyghur ethnic group in 2021.

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