Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Su-Wei Hsieh Unafraid of Being Jinxed, Taiwan Should Cease Deluding Itself

Su-Wei Hsieh Unafraid of Being Jinxed, Taiwan Should Cease Deluding Itself
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
July 10, 2013

Summary: Su-Wei Hsieh said she was unafraid of being jinxed. She was unafraid to shake hands with the president. She shook the "handshake of death" long ago. Her words may have had an edge. But they also had a logic of their own. She said, "I am afraid only of my own inadequacies. External opponents are not my enemy."

Full Text below:

Su-Wei Hsieh said she was unafraid of being jinxed. She was unafraid to shake hands with the president. She shook the "handshake of death" long ago. Her words may have had an edge. But they also had a logic of their own. She said, "I am afraid only of my own inadequacies. External opponents are not my enemy."

Su-Wei Hsieh and Peng Shuai formed a "Straits Duo" that won the Wimbledon women's doubles championship. They immediately became the subject of widespread attention. They received a congratulatory message from the president. A winery in Qinghai offered Su-Wei Hsieh 50 million RMB to change her place of residency. Her tennis partner Peng Shuai mentioned in passing that she "could not accept the notion that Taiwan is a country." This struck a raw nerve in some listeners. In response, Legislative Yuan President Wang Jin-pyng and Education Minister Chiang Wei-ning immediately persuaded the business community to raise 200 million dollars, overnight, and establish a corporate sports fund.

That entrepreneurs are willing to sponsor sports is cause for celebration. But they waited until the government called upon them before making donations. They left the impression that the donations were not made on their own inititative, and that they were not terribly enthusiastic about the entire affair. By contrast, a winery in faraway Qinghai already had its eye on Su-Wei Hsieh. It made her an offer even before her Wimbledon victory. Why do Taiwanese entrepreneurs have little desire to make such investments? Do they lack foresight? They wait until someone else makes a bid. Only then do they want in on the action. Only then do they engage in a bidding war. These political investments, motivated by their desire to protect a "native brand," undermine their claims that they "cherish talent."

Taiwan society is in the habit of feeding anything and everything into the political meat grinder. The possibility that Su-Wei Hsieh may change her place of residency has become an issue. Peng Shuai's inability to accept "Taiwan as a country" also touched a raw nerve for some. Frank Hsieh lashed back. He said "My country is called the Republic of China." Frank Hsieh's declaration was gutsy. But shouldn't he have made this declaration before his Green Camp comrades and grassroots supporters? Shouldn't he have waited to see what reaction this elicited? Peng Shuai is one of the first individual champions on the Mainland's national team. She broke with convention and teamed up with Su-Wei Hsieh to form the Straits Duo. She is subject to scrutiny and pressure difficult for outsiders to appreciate. Does Frank Hsieh want to engage in a contest of bravado? If so, perhaps he should compete against Peng Shuai and see who blinks first.

Champions like Su-Wei Hsieh compete under the international spotlight. They have already achieved self-sufficiency with their cash prizes. So-called corporate sponsorships or endorsements are merely quid pro quos. It is enough that both parties profit from them. Those who really need support and sponsorship, are those who have only begun to display their potential. These players are still struggling. They need help during training and competition. Coaching fees and travel expenses impose a heavy burden on their families. They need outside assistance. Su-Wei Hsieh's siblings belong in this category. Entrepreneurs may be unsure whether to support a particular sport or a particular athlete. If so, why not contribute to an athletic fund and allow the fund to benefit a wide range of sports and athletes? Why not support budding talent in a variety of sports?

Will Su-Wei Hsieh accept the offer from a Qinghai winery, and change her residency? We think she will choose what is best for her. This is no one else's concern. Wang Chien-ming and Chen Wei-yin wanted to play professional baseball in the United States. The Yang Tai-kang brothers wanted to play baseball in Japan. Jeremy Lin was not even born in Taiwan. Yet he was labeled "Taiwan's Shining Light." For professional ball players at the international level, changing one's residency in response to career choices or changes in sponsorship is inevitable. In recent years many ROC national basketball team members have moved to the Mainland. Billiards prodigy Wu Chia-ching, unable to move to Singapore, wound up on Mainland China. She wound up making many times what she would have made on Taiwan. Players elevate their status and broaden their name recognition by moving to larger markets with more competitors. This is something to celebrate. In an era of globalization, why must Taiwan impose artificial limits on itself?

If a player from Taiwan joins a United States or Japanese team, don't we applaud? Don't we consider it an honor? Don't we congratulate the player? Therefore when a player moves to the Mainland, why do we consider it an insult, or find the move hard to swallow? Given Su-Wei Hsieh's character, will she really seal her lips and never again mention that she came from Taiwan? The winery in Qinghai is willing to have players from Taiwan display its trademark throughout the world. Should people on Taiwan respond by refusing to recognize their native daughter from Hsinchu, this Star of Taiwan?

Taiwan's political curse is its unrelenting self-delusion and self-debilitation. It is clear that in an era of globalization, people may go wherever they please. But as soon as someone's destination is the Chinese mainland, we suddenly pull our heads back into our shells like turtles. Fortunately, Su-Wei Hsieh is unafraid of being jinxed. She was blunt. "I am unwilling to play political games along with everyone else. Sports is sports." She knows full well that had she played by Taiwan's political rules, she would never have won her doubles championship.

A great champion constantly challenges herself. A sophisticated audience constantly broadens its perspective and opens its heart.

2013.07.10 01:49 am










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