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How Olympic athletes play for Team China without citizenship: NPR


Advertisements from a Chinese sportswear company show that American-born freestyle ski gold medalist Eileen Gu, or Gu Ailing and other athletes, will compete for China at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics last week in Beijing.

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Advertisements from a Chinese sportswear company show that American-born freestyle ski gold medalist Eileen Gu, or Gu Ailing and other athletes, will compete for China at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics last week in Beijing.

Kevin Flyer / Getty Images

Beijing – At this Winter Olympics, you may find that about 30 athletes competing for Team China are not Chinese citizens.

Who will be on the national team at the Winter Olympics is a particularly complex issue in China, where identity, ethnicity and citizenship issues are at stake.

To be clear, team switching is very common. Countries with a long history of immigrants, such as the United States and Canada, and smaller countries, such as Qatar and Bahrain, have long strengthened their national team roster with naturalized athletes.

“No doubt there is a’brown lane’ [on]: Basically, it is to withdraw exercise capital from developing countries. “It’s been around for a long time, not just in certain countries,” said Tom Fabian, a researcher at the University of Ottawa who studies international athletics.

However, China lags behind this practice. That is because China explicitly prohibits the retention of citizenship in other countries.

As a result, the Internet exploded when US-born freestyle skier Eileen Gu announced in July 2019 that he would be competing in Team China at the Beijing Winter Olympics. Many wondered.

“I’m American when I’m in the United States and Chinese when I’m in China,” she said at a recent Olympic press conference.

Chinese nationality law dates back more than a century

Why does China have such a strict nationality law?

The answer dates back to the Qing dynasty, specifically 1909. This was only two years before a major revolution ended China’s imperial rule.

Qing officials enforced China’s first nationality law in 1909, establishing the principles of pedigree. The idea is that citizenship is based on Chinese heritage and not where you were born.

Chinese people living abroad, such as Southeast Asia, the United States, and Europe, were struggling to overthrow Chinese dynasty rule, and Qing dynasty officials tried to adopt these diasporas and prevent them from promoting the revolution. I was desperate.

They were inspired by the Japanese nationality law of the time. Pedigreeism Citizenship principles.

Tom Murany, a professor of history at Stanford University, said:

Therefore, managing citizenship was a way to guarantee loyalty to China alone. “They assumed that the result of the pedigree principle was unconditional and lasting loyalty,” says Shao Dan, a professor of history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

This emphasis on the national identity of ancestors also stems from the desire to protect the Chinese people abroad.

According to Xiao, Qing officials wanted to oppose the move to consider thousands of colonial Chinese as Dutch citizens in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). Chinese citizenship.

Today, with this ethnic heritage approach to nationality, the Chinese state is fundamental to the diaspora’s Chinese, and even those with foreign passports, in the subject of national identity and politically influential activities. It is now possible to recognize that you are Chinese.

Nationality is more important than citizenship

For athletes deciding which national team to compete for, eligibility depends on whether the athlete professes Chinese nationality, but does not necessarily have to be citizenship.

It gets more complicated here.

“Citizenship is a much more formal recognition that conveys a particular right to you, but nationality doesn’t,” says Mike Gau, an international business instructor at Edge Hill University in the United Kingdom.Identity [and] Who are you. “

The International Olympic Committee does not require athletes to have citizenship to compete on the national team. They can only prove their nationality.

Establishing a nationality can result from living in that country for a period of time or by showing a personal connection to that country through your ancestors. For example, the International Ice Hockey Federation allows male athletes with dual citizenship to live for at least four years. One of those countries, playing for the national team to represent that country at international competitions (female hockey players only need to do so for two years). Represents a country other than your own.

Around it About three-quarters of Team China are made up of athletes born in North America and Russia (athletes who have no Chinese heritage).

Therefore, foreign athletes born to foreign Chinese parents may declare Chinese nationality to play in China. You may also have a second foreign passport.

IOC is Gu I acquired Chinese nationality in 2019.

“In due process, the necessary documents, including a copy of the Chinese passport, have been submitted by the National Olympic Committee of China. As a result, Ms. Gu is eligible to represent the People’s Republic of China in terms of nationality. “Olympic Winter Olympics 2022,” the IOC said in an email response to a question from the NPR.

According to the Chinese Consulate in New York, players with permanent residency in China can also play on the Chinese national team.

In 2020, China relaxed the requirement for permanent residence. This is similar to a green card. As a result, any foreigner with talent in the fields of economy, science and technology, education, culture, health and sports could qualify.

Gary Chodorow, a U.S. immigration lawyer specializing in China, said that few people have permanent residency, but the policy relaxes China’s strict view of those who are counted as Chinese. Indicates that there is a possibility.

“Perhaps the most important factor for the Chinese government is to leverage the wealth and expertise of Chinese abroad so that they can come to China to share and contribute to what they have gained,” said Chodorov. say.

The law is one thing, but acceptance by the larger Chinese society is another matter.

It seems to extend only to successful people.

Zhu Yi, a US-born figure skater from the Chinese team, fell during her first Olympic performance. Her failure and her rusty Mandarin spoiled her by robbing Chinese internet users of her position as a Chinese-born skater.

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