China goes into overdrive to explain anti-semitic player’s remarks

As the spotlight turns to Olympic sponsors facing questions over their association with the Guizhou basketball player expelled from the Games for making anti-semitic remarks, it has emerged that the controversial player is the No 2 agent in China, the chief executive of a popular culture website said.

Peng Shuai, the Games No 2 seed from China, was expelled from the games on Thursday after threatening to walk off the court during a match. “I’ll go home,” she said. “You Jews, you always get what you deserve.”

It is not clear what Peng plans to do next. She has lost her place in the first round of the women’s wheelchair basketball championship and has been banned from representing her Chinese Basketball Association club on the weekend. In the US, sponsors Nike, Coca-Cola and Microsoft have begun to distance themselves from her and authorities are considering legal action.

“We are monitoring the situation,” a Coca-Cola spokesperson said.

But her China National Basketball Association club, Dalian Wanda Group, has defended her action, saying her actions were perfectly justified because the crowd disrupted the game. “There were a lot of distractions, from noise and aggression,” a Wanda official said.

How to behave is not one of the main topics for discussion on the topic database China Digital Times.

“She is a team player,” said Zhang Lin, a professor of communication at Tsinghua University. “One thing I think is that, having a talent as a basketball player, she is very valuable. So some poor fans might be more aggressive and be frustrated by the team not winning.”

Mark Matsui, an expert on Chinese nationalism and vice-president of the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China, said: “The American government has been squarely right in identifying this as an unacceptable remark and separate from the Olympics or context of sport.”

However, in the state-run media, what might be considered a racial slur in a Chinese context might sound nothing like “What are you Jews, do you know who I am?” to an American audience.

“Haven’t you heard of the old Chinese people saying about the pigs, ‘They are a big thorn in my side. I hate them very much’?” said Qiao Xiaodong, a research scholar at the Centre for US-China Relations at Renmin University.

Qiao, who is also a lawyer, added: “Something a few in the media have picked up which I think might be important in terms of understanding her statement is her profession. It’s sports and she has paid the price for her comments. Of course, she has to be forgiven but not abided by.”

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