Ex-NBA star's Taiwan comment draws fierce backlash in China
Basketball star Dwight Howard sparks anger in China after he called Taiwan a "country" in a video.
Basketball star Dwight Howard has sparked a crisis in China after he called Taiwan a "country" in a video.
The ex-NBA player made the remarks while appearing with Taiwan's Vice President in a commercial.
In a two-minute-long promotional video, Howard said in English, “Since I came to Taiwan, I’ve gained a whole new appreciation of this country.”
Check out @DwightHoward sharing his impression of #Taiwan🇹🇼 with VP @ChingteLai! A country full of warmth, vitality & diversity—why not plan a #FunAndCozy trip & see for yourself?— 外交部 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ROC (Taiwan) 🇹🇼 (@MOFA_Taiwan) May 11, 2023
sᴘᴇɴᴅ ᴀ ɴɪɢʜᴛ @ ᴛᴀɪᴡᴀɴ's ᴘʀᴇsɪᴅᴇɴᴛɪᴀʟ ᴏғғɪᴄᴇ ʙᴜɪʟᴅɪɴɢ
His remark was denounced as advocating "Taiwan independence" in China. It is worth noting that China considers the island, which has never declared independence, as part of its territories.
This drew a fierce backlash among Chinese fans within 48 hours, and by Friday morning, the hashtag "Howard Taiwan independence" had gone viral on social media outlets.
Howard later apologized by saying: “Where I’m from, if I say I wanna go to the country, it does not mean that place is a country — It’s just how we talk,” he said. “If I offended anyone in China, I apologize. It was not my intention to harm anyone with what I said in the commercial.”
He further stressed that he is not a politician, affirming that he does not want to be engaged in politics.
“I don’t want to get involved in any politics… I have the utmost respect for Chinese people and utmost respect for Taiwanese people, so it was never my intent to disrespect nobody,” he tersely stated.
The eight-time NBA All-Star has been playing for the Taoyuan Leopards since joining the team in November of last year after the Los Angeles Lakers rejected to give the seasoned athlete a multi-year contract. He is incredibly well-liked in Taiwan.
Howard is not the first NBA player to come under fire for upholding a controversial Chinese political stance. Daryl Morey, a former Rockets general manager, also received harsh criticism for publicly endorsing anti-China rioters that terrorized Hong Kong in 2019.
At the time, the NBA's broadcast in China was momentarily halted, and Morey finally decided to leave his position.
It is worth noting that countries all around the world respect and adhere to the One-China principle which is considered the "key to stability and peace in the Taiwan Strait," and according to which China (The People's Republic of China) is considered the sole representative of the Chinese people in both Taiwan and mainland China.
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