Can there be a Jeremy Lin in China?

Let me start by condemning this incredibly offensive photo that was much discussed on the news tonight.

This photo, put out by the network that broadcasts the Knicks’ games, makes a grotesque issue of Lin’s race and I am delighted to see that it was quickly condemned by even right-leaning media. This was outrageous.

Next, let me say that I never thought I’d ever put up a post about basketball. It will be brief.

Even I, who have never had the slightest interest in team sports of any kind, have been impressed by the incredibly rapid and dramatic ascension of Jeremy Lin, unheard of a few days ago and now the most-heard name on television, and everywhere else. It’s not surprising. On top of his pyrotechnics on the court he has other qualities that ensure he will be a media darling, especially his deep Christian faith and the fact that he is Harvard-educated yet modest, soft-spoken and irresistibly charismatic.

I’ve been reading that although he’s already a superhero on China’s social media, the Chinese media’s response to Lin has been muted. He is, after all, an American, a devout Christian, and his success raises questions as to why there is no Lin equivalent in China, i.e., a brilliant young man educated in the country’s finest university who went on to turn himself into a sports sensation.

The best piece I’ve seen on this topic is here (h/t to James Fallows). The reporter, Adam Minter, quotes a Chinese microblogger:

If Jeremy Lin lived on the mainland, he would either be a semi-literate CBA [Chinese Basketball Association, China’s state-run professional league] player or an ordinary undergraduate who likes basketball in his spare time. We admire him not because he is an ethnic Chinese, but because he has proved for a fact that the main reason that Chinese don’t play basketball well is because of the system, and not their physique!

I’ve written before about China’s sports factories that churn out athletes who have no skills outside of their sport, and how those who don’t make it usually end up with limited skills and poor job prospects. So I kept wondering, could China produce a Jeremy Lin? Unfortunately, I don’t think so. Not yet.

I was listening to interviews on NPR this morning with fans in China who insist Lin is Chinese due to the color of his skin and the fact that his roots go back to Zhejiang (and Taiwan). Their hero worship of Lin will continue, as he is all they have. As Minter says in his closing line, “Until there is a Jeremy Lin born and made in China, Jeremy Lin the Chinese-American will almost certainly remain a favorite of native-born Chinese basketball fans.”

The Discussion: 89 Comments

“Unfortunately, I don’t think so. Not yet.”

too dogmatic. We all know the system of CCP(not CHINA!)is so crap,but on this event Lin is a special case. Unless all Scouts for NBA are blind,I think it should owe such deed to Mike D’Antoni the most

To many Chinese youth,admitted into Harvard or entering NBA is their biggest dream——Lin realized both,and that’s the most exciting

February 17, 2012 @ 1:29 pm | Comment

Dogmatic? I am not saying it could never happen, only that I don’t think we’ll see it anytime soon. You talk about Lin as though he is native-born Chinese. He isn’t.

February 17, 2012 @ 1:53 pm | Comment

Chinese means 华人(race)not 中国人(nation or country)——I haven’t said he is a Chinese(中国人)

OK,I translate my words into Chinese and hope you understand:对于多数华人青年来说,无论是被哈佛录取还是进入NBA打球都是他们最大的梦想————而林书豪则将两者全都实现,这才是最令人兴奋激动的地方

February 17, 2012 @ 2:17 pm | Comment

Wait, can I celebrate the achievements of everyone who has UK ancestry even if it’s tenuous at best too?

What, that means I have to take Bush off your hands as well?

Thanks, but no thanks.

February 17, 2012 @ 2:34 pm | Comment

Everyone’s ancestry is from KOREA!

February 17, 2012 @ 2:44 pm | Comment

Yao Ming actually had a lovely quote about Jeremy Lin:

“What I see from Jeremy and what I hear in his interviews is he appreciates everything. He pursues his dream. His attitude is so peaceful, but there is strength to him. It is not a violent strength like fire or something aggressive. It is like the ocean, very peaceful, very quiet when you look at it. But you can never underestimate the power that is in there.”

Link here.

February 17, 2012 @ 3:05 pm | Comment

Oh, and the longer article about Yao Ming is interesting too!

February 17, 2012 @ 3:07 pm | Comment

Actually Lin himself said is proud of being Chinese and Taiwanese:

Even in a pre-game prayer: (1:57)

February 17, 2012 @ 3:22 pm | Comment

What on earth is a point guard?
When China produces a half decent football player…..
In the interim, they will have sorted all their enviromental issues.
Yao Min above. Scripted character assessment nonsense by a none too bright pin head.
NBA. A shoe franchise suited to the sino-herd-mentality.
And no comment about harvard and the christian twaddle.

February 17, 2012 @ 7:24 pm | Comment

I wouldn’t do business with people who offend others based on their race, because I wouldn’t deem them trustworthy. But that would be that – and I’m probably lacking either the sensitivity or the knowledge of American culture to judge the degree to which this ad would be offensive.

Besides, anger and protest spells attention, too – it’s a fine line between being offended, and wanting to be a censor.

This is what a commenter wrote on Mr. Lin’s (apparently official) website:

Even though I am Asian, I don’t see anything wrong with associating Lin with a fortune cookie. I’ll say that it’s a tribute to Lin’s surprise impact as an Asian American on the NBA.

In general, Lin’s website makes no fuss of it. At times, “anti-racism” tends to be over-protective, in my view, and that’s no good thing either.

Foarp, have you never heard Polish people claim that Chopin was a Polish, not a French composer (plus stories about Chopin’s alleged request that his heart be buried in Poland, while all the rest may be buried in France)? It may not be exactly the same story, but the argument pattern is similar, in my view.

Anyway, Beethoven is German. There’s nothing Belgian or Austrian about him. End of discussion.

February 17, 2012 @ 8:53 pm | Comment

I don’t hear of any American superstars in ping-pong.

Or badminton.

Or gymnastics.

Or diving.


Heck, America sucks in football too (world football, not American football), compared to many more “backward countries” with “backward systems” (e.g. several African and Eastern European teams).

Could America produce a superstar athlete in one of those sports? Unfortunately I don’t think so. Not yet.

And BTW, if China churns out athletes with no skills outside of their job prospect, the same thing goes for many US athletes. Some get scholarships to prestigious universities pure for their athletic ability and not their brains. Outside of sport, they end up like Allen Iverson…. earned over USD100 million during his career, only to end up a complete bankrupt just a mere few years later. Plenty of examples in other countries too.

Basically, this is nothing more than the same crap wrapped in a different country’s flag. These stuff, and hearing things like whether “will China ever have its own Steve Jobs, etc.” gets old really fast.

February 17, 2012 @ 11:07 pm | Comment

Wait, can I celebrate the achievements of everyone who has UK ancestry even if it’s tenuous at best too?

You have been repudiated by people with “UK ancestry” so it doesn’t really work. Chinese people everywhere are Chinese unless they’re hanjian.

February 18, 2012 @ 1:18 am | Comment

First, not sure about the Chinese media having been muted — Lin’s name is splashing all over. Yeah I read that too. Chalk that up to yet another one of the gazillion pieces of mis-/dis-information about China.

Professional sports career is very hard everywhere. If you don’t make it to the top, often your life can be worse than as if you were less talented in China, or in the US. Many compare Lin to Kurt Warner, who both were undrafted. The differences were, Lin didn’t have a scholarship but Warner did; Lin had a 2-year contract with a pro team (GS Warriors) that at least paid him a few hundred grands, but Warner didn’t. Warner had a 4-year college ed, but he was bagging groceries before he caught the lightening in a bottle — how was that better than say some 2nd-tier diving prospect in China who never makes it to the top level?

Out of all the quotes indirectly from Minter, you just happened to get the one from somebody who is obviously clueless about basketball in China. Ever since Lin made it big, some in China have been comparing him to a former CUBA star named Zeng Lingxu who graduated from Tsinghua with a major in business administration, and is playing in CBA now, and playing quite well I might add. Basically Zeng wasn’t considered good enough when he graduated from HS to play in CBA, but was smart enough to go to Tsinghua. Equally Lin wasn’t highly recruited out of HS to spend a year or two with a scholarship, and then go to NBA without finishing the college — yes thanks to David Stern after LBJ you practically have to stop over at a college, or an international league.

Lin’s games probably is ill-suited for the FIBA rules unless he can improve his outside shooting. Of course, he will still be an upgrade to the Chinese PGs if he could play for the Chinese national team — Just methinks much much smaller than many expect. The advantage of Lin over the Chinese guards is Lin has been competing in the American basketball systems, which makes him more ready to play in NBA (than say Sun Yue). To understand it better think of an Asian-American badminton prodigy growing in the US. He will unlikely be able to compete at the highest level simply because of the level of the domestic competitions. To be able to get the most out of his potentialities, he would have to compete in Asia, preferably in China, starting at a very young age.

February 18, 2012 @ 2:01 am | Comment

Scores of US divers have won Olympic medals for diving. You can see that here. US men and women have won many, many medals in gymnastics. And diving. You can find all the listings on wikipedia. You have no idea what you’re talking about.

The Chinese, for whatever reasons, have excelled and dominated in non-team sports like table tennis and diving. Americans, for whatever reasons, have excelled across the board (except table tennis) but especially in team sports.

The US has no system that puts young children into sports factories and keeps them their for their entire lives until they reach adulthood. They are in effect slaves, and they get no true education to speak of. China’s athletic system is inhuman and inhumane. It cannot be compared to that in the US, where athletes live their lives like normal people and are never shut off from the world. I was involved in the Beijing Olympics and can tell you the Chinese athletes are kept in a total cocoon. I also interviewed a Chinese bronze medal winner and she told me how miserable her childhood was. She told me about corporal punishment in the athlete mills. She left for the US as soon as she had the means to do so.

February 18, 2012 @ 2:21 am | Comment

jxie, “muted” does not mean censored. It means cautious and restrained.

JR, the fortune cookie was reminiscent of showing Obama eating fried chicken and waffles. There are ways to make a point without resorting to racial stereotypes. Not the end of the world, but I thought it was in poor taste, and so did all the media I’ve seen since.

February 18, 2012 @ 2:21 am | Comment

No the reason why more Chinese don’t play basketball is because of their physique. The only reason Lin made it to Harvard was because he was good at basketball. His SAT scores were mediocre, mid 600’s across the board.

All of Lins Chinese fans are soft-headed. His popularity is being inflated to increase the NBA brand in China. A jew, David Stern, pushing negro worship on the unsuspecting Han race.

February 18, 2012 @ 2:39 am | Comment

Jing either you’re a complete idiot or you are having fun role playing. I’m guessing it’s the latter.

February 18, 2012 @ 2:40 am | Comment

Lin is such a crazy anomaly that the whole question of “Can there be a Jeremy Lin in China?” is a little bit weird. How about “Can America produce another Harvard-educated, Chinese-American major NBA star?” Seems highly unlikely we’ll see another story like this in the next 50 years, since we didn’t see one in the last 50 years.

February 18, 2012 @ 3:23 am | Comment

I don’t disagree, Luke. He is totally in a class by itself. What’s interesting is the reaction of some Chinese toward him as quoted in my post.

February 18, 2012 @ 3:46 am | Comment

Can there be a Jeremy Lin in New Zealand?
Can there be a Jeremy Lin in Poland?
Can there be a Jeremy Lin in Russia?
Can there be a Jeremy Lin in Indonesia?
Can there be a Jeremy Lin in Nicaragua?
Can there be a Jeremy Lin in Mozambique?
Can there be a Jeremy Lin in Principality of Micronesia?

There must be something with the society if the country cannot produce a Jeremy Lin. They need to be overthrown and a revolution must be started there.

February 18, 2012 @ 7:30 am | Comment

Yes, Red Star, that was the point of this post, that we should overthrow China.

February 18, 2012 @ 7:32 am | Comment

The majority of the Chinese people having stable and prosperous and peaceful lives is the most painful thing for you to bear.

February 18, 2012 @ 8:20 am | Comment

Red Star, I frequently give the Chinese government credit for getting out of its citizens’ way to allow them to prosper. I love China. I lived there and would like to move back. What does that have to do with Jeremy Lin?

February 18, 2012 @ 8:22 am | Comment

Never mind. But you said:
“Chinese government credit for getting out of its citizens’ way to allow them to prosper”

I’m serious. If all it takes for a country to prosper is for govt to get out of the way. Then there are many many many more countries in the world with much less regulations and freer political systems than China today, and yet none of them followed China’s path. In fact, many 3rd world countires today send ppl to China to learn about their “secrets”.

If it’s as simple as the government “getting out of the way”, there must be many many more examples like China today. How can you explain the uniqueness of China? Don’t tell me you think Chinese people are just more hardworking an intelligent than blacks and hispanics.

February 18, 2012 @ 8:29 am | Comment

China would be unlikely to produce a Jeremy Lin even if they were democratic, unless that democracy grossly misallocates resources. Wait what am I even talking about, of course a democracy would choose sports over economic development.

February 18, 2012 @ 8:42 am | Comment

Red Star, the Chinese have succeeded wherever they’ve gone, climbed right to the top, as in Indonesia, the US, Singapore, etc. They are among the most productive people in the world. The CCP, thank God, got out of their way after the GLF and the CR showed the glories of a controlled society. I give lots of credit to Deng for this. He allowed the mainland Chinese to catch up with the wonderful successes of the Chinese diaspora by ending the chokehold of Maoism and letting his people do what they have always done best — produce, trade, do business, get rich.

By the way, everyone, this is what Red Star does best — derailing threads and steering them in a totally irrelevant direction. I should know better than to fall into the trap.

Cookie, democracy is irrelevant to Lin’s successes. What is relevant, however, is the totalitarian approach to athletics in China. That is why in China you won’t have a brilliant young scholar who suddenly launches to international acclaim as a gymnast or diver or soccer player. That’s just not the way the game is played, so to speak.

February 18, 2012 @ 9:03 am | Comment


“Americans, for whatever reasons, have excelled across the board (except table tennis) but especially in team sports.”

Errrr . . . Only the ones that pretty much only they and a few of their neighbours play. Football? Rugby? Field Hockey? Polo? You know – the games that the rest of the world plays? Nowhere to be seen.

In fact, and this may come as a shock, but Americans are seen as, on the whole, pretty bad at team sports and temperamentally better suited to individual sports like tennis and golf.

February 18, 2012 @ 9:09 am | Comment

It’s not really different from the way it was done elsewhere in industrializing East Asia. It’s hard on people but produces results. This applies to the educational system as well.

February 18, 2012 @ 9:11 am | Comment

If anyone is interested in smart sports commentary, I suggest checking out grantland. Anyway, bill Simmons has a fun column on linsanity.

Lin should be a good point guard…and his race has no bearing on his ability to run a half court set. His would be a good story regardless of colour. Underdog makes it on the big stage after being overlooked everywhere he went. That he is of Chinese descent might add a bit to the novelty factor (and hence the marketing factor insofar as the nba and MSG are concerned), but it makes no difference in the field (or in this case, the court) of play.

February 18, 2012 @ 9:37 am | Comment

FOARP, Rugby and polo aren’t real sports. Not in America.

You’re right, of course — they excel in those sports that are played popularly in America. like basketball, baseball and football – but also in gymnastics and many other Olympic sports, contrary to what TE Low claims above.

February 18, 2012 @ 10:00 am | Comment

Taiwan is all abuzz here – Lin Shu-how is everywhere! We adopted him, even if he doesn’t worship local gods 🙂

February 18, 2012 @ 2:27 pm | Comment

@Richard – Gymnastics is a team sport?

And they are at least right to point out that you could just as easily ask “Can there be a David Beckham in America” – and the answer would be that America does not have a team like Manchester United, or a league like the Premiership, or the kind of intense local loyalty and footballing culture that would allow an American to flourish on the field. China also has neither a league like the NBA, nor teams like those in the NBA, nor, really, a great basket-ball culture to match those in the US. Pointing to university students playing basketball on their lunch-breaks (and never running defence) does not mean that things should necessarily be otherwise.

February 18, 2012 @ 4:49 pm | Comment

@ Richard,

Americans *used* to be top tier at gymnastics and diving. Right now, they are still pretty damn good at it, but definitely not at the star level anymore (though certainly they are at the next level). The biggest stars of gymnastics come from China, Eastern Europe, and Russia / former USSR states. The biggest stars of diving today are almost totally Chinese. Having a serial American gold medalist in diving in the biggest world competitions has probably not happened for awhile (please do correct me if I am wrong).

Also, the Chinese are only starting to emerge on the global sports stage. Give them the time they need to develop their sports system. Expecting Chinese folks to immediately excel at a sport which does not really suit their physique, where they did not develop or make the rules, where the competition level is a mere blip on the world radar, is kinda unrealisitic. And this point also leads me to another, wherein if the American system is so damn good for basketball for ANY race, why is there a Jeremy Lin ONLY emerging at this moment? Shouldn’t there have been more Asian American basketball players emerging at least 10 or even 20 years ago (let alone at a star level)?

Finally, your point about the Chinese sports system being nothing more than a factory churning out purely “monolithic robots”… I think that is both the blessing and the curse of having a 1.4 billion population. When a country has a population that big, the country can afford to “cherry pick” from a wide range of choices. Unfortunately as well, since there is such a wide range of choices, that means competition for spots is so intense (you are looking at what? 1000 competitors for per spot at a national competition level?) that Chinese sportsmen / women have no option but to hyper-specialise. In short, if I want to be a national sportsman / woman, and if there are thousands of other sportsmen / women breathing down my neck, I better make sure I specialise really really deeply in my chosen sport. Everything else is (sadly) ancillary.

The blessing and curse of a large population…. *shrug* (and it doesn’t only apply to sports…..)

February 18, 2012 @ 5:06 pm | Comment

@Hong Xing
The majority of the Chinese people having stable and prosperous and peaceful lives is the most painful thing for you to bear.

Hahahaha? Are you kidding? You call this “stable and prosperous and peaceful lives”? One is just amazed how running dogs like Red Star are living in self-delusion as the Chinese people suffered at the hands of the CCP.

Chinese villagers hail teen killer as hero

Besieged China villagers vow to keep up protests

China rail crash families refusing payouts

7 women beaten for petitioning in Beijing

February 18, 2012 @ 7:36 pm | Comment

@Hong Xing

Can there be a Jeremy Lin in Principality of Micronesia?

Only a retard would think that Micronesia is a principality. LOL. Fifty centers are out here because they can’t even get basic facts right.. Hahahaha

February 18, 2012 @ 7:40 pm | Comment

[…] at The Peking Duck has a post, following up on an excellent essay by Adam Minter at Bloomberg, which poses the question of […]

February 18, 2012 @ 8:02 pm | Pingback

FOARP, gymnastics is not of course, a team sport. I wrote, “they excel in those sports that are played popularly in America, like basketball, baseball and football – but also in gymnastics…” Meaning, gymnastics is not a team sport but Americans have excelled at it anyway.

SP, good luck convincing Red Star.

TE Low, I’ll give them all the time they need. But their current system of taking athletes away and pushing them to extremes and keeping them from their families is not going to produce any Jeremy Lins. Let me repeat what the Chinese microblogger said on Weibo:

If Jeremy Lin lived on the mainland, he would either be a semi-literate CBA [Chinese Basketball Association, China’s state-run professional league] player or an ordinary undergraduate who likes basketball in his spare time. We admire him not because he is an ethnic Chinese, but because he has proved for a fact that the main reason that Chinese don’t play basketball well is because of the system, and not their physique!

I happen to agree in general (there are exceptions, and some of China’s superstar athletes are quite bright and articulate). They system would not have allowed Jeremy Lin, at 6’3″, to become a basketball star.

Update: ESPN yesterday put out a piece on Lin titled, “Chink In The Armor.” They since took it down and apologized.

February 19, 2012 @ 1:17 am | Comment

Successful team sports in China is best left to the women. The men would be too busy infighting, claiming all the credit, and backstabbing each other…

February 19, 2012 @ 3:08 am | Comment

sp123 spewed: “Only a retard would think that Micronesia is a principality.”

Richard, why haven’t you banned this fucking idiot?

February 19, 2012 @ 6:23 am | Comment

If the parents have the free will of having their children to join or to leave the Chinese sports system, how can you call them effective slaves? It will be a lengthy discussion on the Chinese sports system and its evolution… Most of the people I know personally who have gone through the system overall seem to be fairly positive about that part of their lives.

The Spanish national basketball team has been able to match well with the best the US has to offer, under the FIBA rules during the last decade. The Spanish national team consists of 2 borderline NBA all-stars in Gasol brothers, 2 NBA serviceable starters in Caderon and Rubio, and a couple of NBA backups. If the games had been under the NBA rules, the Spanish team would have stood no chance against the best American team. A fantastic showing would be a loss by 20 points.

People often overlook the effect of the rules on the outcomes of the games. The FIBA rules are mostly tweaked by the Europeans. If you allow the Chinese to tweak the rules, don’t be surprised that the Chinese team can be very competitive worldwide. In 2008 China only lost to Spain in OT already — granted that was kind of a fluke but the potentials are there.

Another example of the rule changes is the Chinese men’s volleyball team. In the late 70s to mid-80s, the Chinese team was one of the top teams in the world — at one point only slightly inferior to the USSR team. Even the Japanese team was easily one of the top 8 in the world. However, a couple of major rules changes, especially the jump serve rule and the scoring rule, have gradually shifted the power to teams like Italy, Brazil and Cuba. In case you wonder, in the old days jump serves were allowed but the defense team could block or spike the ball back, which made jump serves less desirable. Nowadays you can’t block/spike jump serves, which penalizes the teams that are good at team work and tough at defense, but less capable of fielding a team with powerful jump servers. The game is more bang-bang now instead of relying on a lot of formations and strategies like in the old days.

BTW, Rugby is huge in many countries. American football is called “American Rugby” by many non-native English speakers. Once I was in the Buenos Aires Airport waiting for a plane, the South Africans and the Argentines actually cheered when the plane was delayed because they could watch a Rugby World Cup game. If memory serves me, it was a game between South African and another team, and the winner would play Argentina.

Just my random two cents.

February 19, 2012 @ 6:34 am | Comment


Among English football stars in the last 3 decades, i.e. Barnes, Lineker, Gascoigne, Owen, Shearer, Beckham, the best in my mind has got to be Wayne Rooney, who is a technically proficient stone cold killer. However, with the way ManU is using him, he may never get to make a name for himself in the World Cup history.

February 19, 2012 @ 6:54 am | Comment

These days, for me, as far as soccer/football is concerned, nothing beats watching Barcelona play. And Messi is of course sublime. Bayer Leverkusen was painfully overmatched in that first leg of Champions League round of 16 match. And England is similarly overmatched against the Spanish national team, which is basically Barca plus a few Real Madrid guys.

February 19, 2012 @ 7:10 am | Comment

@SKC. Agree.
OMG. It is a terrible roller coaster ride supporting Arsenal.

To my point. Forget this christian Lin fellow.

As I just wrote, could China produce a 14 year old Kelly Nordstrom? I die laughing just thinking about the possibility.

February 19, 2012 @ 8:40 am | Comment

Jason, if you looked up a few comments you’d see I already posted that story.

February 19, 2012 @ 9:15 am | Comment

“China also has neither a league like the NBA, nor teams like those in the NBA, nor, really, a great basket-ball culture to match those in the US.”

I’ll second this. If you play a skill position (like a guard in basketball), you need good competition and instruction to push you throughout your development. I bet the biggest impediment for China probably isn’t a lack of talent, it’s a lack of strong leagues and coaches to hone that talent.

“Having a serial American gold medalist in diving in the biggest world competitions has probably not happened for awhile (please do correct me if I am wrong).”

Laura Wilkinson in 2000 is the most recent American gold medalist in diving. Not that it disproves your point. If you go back another decade or so on the men’s side, Greg Louganis & Mark Lenzi both won multiple golds.

February 19, 2012 @ 9:53 am | Comment

“Richard, why haven’t you banned…”
Looks like there is a bitter little runt out there lol

February 19, 2012 @ 8:45 pm | Comment

SP, don’t get personal please.

February 20, 2012 @ 12:57 am | Comment

All the medals China wins in ping pong (seriously is that a global sport?) and kiddie porn events such as synchronised swimming and gymnastics don’t meam much to the average Chinese citizen. They lust after credible soccer teams both domestically and nationally. Look at the response reported by China Daily over the recent sentences of corrupt soccer officials.

The only way the govt could turn these survey results around would be public burnings at the stake.

Re: Anelka et al as the panacea for all that ails PRC football. They will simply clean up money-wise and, if single, meet Sino sisters and then retire in Monaco. Delicious irony here, given the general populaces’ racist attitudes to black folk.

These overseas buys have been mandated from the very top. Recall a year or so ago, when the propaganda dept told newspaper editor in very clear terms to lay off the jokes and negativity about Sino-football.

Prediction: purchasing high priced players will have exactly zero effect on the quality of Chinese football. All it will result in is ever-more increased sexual sublimation in the terraces. Just watch as expectations in Shanghai are shattered in the coming months.

Some amusing background for a Japanese perspective.
Thnx Richard

February 20, 2012 @ 6:12 am | Comment

@JXie – Given the way the England team is going, Rooney won’t get that chance whatever ManU does. The tantrums (particularly after losing us that N. Ireland game) didn’t exactly endear him to the England fans either, although he is undoubtedly a great player.

PS – If you need an example of how bringing in foreign players might make for a great domestic league, but does not necessarily add up to a good national team, England over the last 20-odd years isn’t a bad one.

February 20, 2012 @ 2:37 pm | Comment

I’m not even gonna try and catch up on these comments. But here’s an article in the Economist that supports much of what you’re saying, Richard.

February 20, 2012 @ 3:46 pm | Comment

You know, looking at football, it’s pretty obvious where the problem is. Whilst it would be easy to blame the top-down approach, this is obviously not the ultimate root of China’s footballing problems.

Both the USSR and North Korea had/have a similarly top-down system. The USSR won the 1960 European Cup and was runner-up three times from 1960-1988 – a better record than England during a period when England was a world-bestriding force in football. North Korea’s record is also outstanding for a country of its size – Quarter-finals in ’66 (following a victory over Italy), qualification in 2010, and when they’re not banned (which is often, and due not only to international considerations but also to behaviour of their fans) they usually qualify for the AFC.

Taking a look at the region, you can see that both South Korea and Japan, which share some of the cultural mores of China especially when it comes to denigrating careers in sport, also field decent football teams. Hong-Kong, for its size, and considering the problem of finding anywhere to play in the territory, also has a decent footballing culture and the local teams seem to have fanatical followings.

Turn to Taiwan, however, and you’ll see a place which, despite the reasonably large size of the population, and the abscence of a top-down force driving football there, just simply doesn’t do football. A friend of mine follows the home games of the national team there and has seen only a few goals scored in years. most of the players are picked from those playing at universities, no national squad is maintained.

Basically, Taiwanese do not care about playing football for Taiwan, and it is the same in mainland China. Whilst the women appear to be motivated, there’s no expectation placed on the men’s team, nor do they really care about it. Apathy, encouraged by corruption, is the main reason why the Chinese men’s team never goes anywhere.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t think China can produce good teams and good players. It’s just I don’t think they’re going to flourish in the current Chinese football set-up with its apathy-breeding corruption. In fact, I’m going to make a hostage to fortune and say that some time in the next ten years one of the Chinese players you see bench-warming in various foreign leagues is going to come off the bench and score a devastating hat-trick against tough opposition. Then Chinese football fans will really have something to talk about.

February 20, 2012 @ 10:26 pm | Comment

@FOARP, if not for the heroic Eusebio and some very dubious refereeing, North Korea could’ve gone to the semi in 1966. If you believe in Karma, the bad refereeing Koreans had to endure facing some European teams in 1966, got paid back in 2002. I grew up as a sports nut and knew a lot of quirky sports factoid. For instance, guess which nation had won the most swimming golds in both the 1932 and the 1936 Olympics?

It’ll be a very long discussion on why and how the Chinese football has sunk so low. The “top-down” sports system, or the “Soviet style” sports system, certainly isn’t it. The Chinese football team didn’t get to play WC until 1982. The era of the best performance — nothing to write home about but still far better than today — was when the football system was much more “top-down”. Up until the early 90s, China had a decent head-to-head record against Japan, then had a far better domestic league, in terms of pay and level of play. Even then, you could tell that Japan would be very good soon. In a way, money played an important role in Japan’s football ascendance.

The meteoric rise of Jeremy Lin has brought out a lot of casual sports fans, who at here or many other places have voiced their extremely uninformed opinions. First, Jeremy Lin is an outliner due to a handful of reasons of which bigotry played a role. Had he been black or white, he would’ve been recruited out of HS and had a more normal career. I am not particularly angry about that — it is what it is — you should make the most out of your circumstances at any time instead of bitching about them, which is useless. Especially now Lin has made it, his unique career path and background are such a fantastic selling point. Most Americans don’t realize that the American sports system is not a global norm. Most professional sportspeople outside of the US, tend not go to college and start playing professionally at a much younger age.

February 21, 2012 @ 4:25 am | Comment

@JXie –

“The meteoric rise of Jeremy Lin has brought out a lot of casual sports fans, who at here or many other places have voiced their extremely uninformed opinions.”

One of the joys of sports is that everyone has an opinion – although if you have to put up with a national team that has manager after manager ruined due to fan opposition you’re going to start wishing that they didn’t. I have to admit that up ’till 2006 I was one of those England supporters who managed to magically convince themselves that England had a chance every time a competition came round so I hear where the China fans are coming from.

“If you believe in Karma, the bad refereeing Koreans had to endure facing some European teams in 1966, got paid back in 2002.”

And was still going strong in 2010, apparently.

“It’ll be a very long discussion on why and how the Chinese football has sunk so low. The “top-down” sports system, or the “Soviet style” sports system, certainly isn’t it.”

Yeah, I eventually came to same opinion myself. It might explain a greater concentration on certain sports, but the money and people that go into pistol shooting would not otherwise go into football.

“Most Americans don’t realize that the American sports system is not a global norm. Most professional sportspeople outside of the US, tend not go to college and start playing professionally at a much younger age.”

True that. I grew up near Merseyside during the 80’s, when the Bootroom and its proteges still dominated football, when all the top-flight teams had something similar, before Chelsea ushered in the modern era with all their foreign signings. The US university-driven model only works because the US education system is oriented that way and is pretty much unique to the US. Sure America gets good sportspeople- but the cost is unnecessarily expensive higher education. The US system doesn’t create good footballers because, amongst other things, footballers need to start younger. Only apprenticeships and youth teams can do that – and these do not (or should not, anyway) result in ‘illiterate’ sportspeople.

February 21, 2012 @ 5:20 am | Comment

PS –

“guess which nation had won the most swimming golds in both the 1932 and the 1936 Olympics?”

I’m going to make a totally random guess and say Canada. Here’s where you embarrass me by saying that it was Brazil or something.

February 21, 2012 @ 5:22 am | Comment

The answer: Japan. They won golds in 4 x 200 meter men’s freestyle relay (swimming) twice. 4 x 200 meter freestyle relay is one of those events that really show a nation’s sporting depth. In some events such as 100 meter dash, if there aren’t a lot of West African descents in your nation, your chance of winning is far worse than Lin’s chance of making in NBA. Swimming is something that people of all races having won in the past.

I have been following the times set by the best 5 to 6 200 meter freestyle swimmers in China and in the US in the past year or so, ever since the possibility has come to my attention — there is an ok chance that team China led by Sun Yang, may beat the team led by Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte in London.

February 21, 2012 @ 6:23 am | Comment

Superb piece on Lin over at the Economist. Snip:

Mr Lin is, put plainly, precisely everything that China’s state sport system cannot possibly produce. If Mr Lin were to have been born and raised in China, his height alone might have denied him entry into China’s sport machine, as Time’s Hannah Beech points out: “Firstly, at a mere 6’3”—relatively short by basketball standards—Lin might not have registered with Chinese basketball scouts, who in their quest for suitable kids to funnel into the state sport system are obsessed with height over any individual passion for hoops.” Even when Mr Lin was still a young boy, one look at his parents, each of unremarkable stature, would have made evaluators sceptical. Ms Beech’s other half happens to be Brook Larmer, the author of the fascinating book “Operation Yao Ming”, which details how Chinese authorities contrived to create China’s most successful basketball star, Mr Yao, the product of tall parents who were themselves Chinese national basketball team players. The machine excels at identifying, processing and churning out physical specimens—and it does so exceedingly well for individual sports, as it will again prove in London this year. But it happens to lack the nuance and creativity necessary for team sport.

Then there is the fact that Mr Lin’s parents probably never would have allowed him anywhere near the Chinese sport system in the first place. This is because to put one’s child (and in China, usually an only child at that) in the sport system is to surrender that child’s upbringing and education to a bureaucracy that cares for little but whether he or she will win medals someday. If Mr Lin were ultimately to be injured or wash out as an athlete, he would have given up his only chance at an elite education, and been separated from his parents for lengthy stretches, for nothing. (One must add to this the problem of endemic corruption in Chinese sport that also scares away parents—Chinese football referee Lu Jun, once heralded as the “golden whistle” for his probity, was sentenced to jail last week as part of a massive match-fixing scandal). Most Chinese parents, understandably, prefer to see their children focus on schooling and exams.

In America, meanwhile, athletic excellence actually can open doors to an elite education, through scholarships and recruitment. Harvard does not provide athletic scholarships, but it does recruit players who also happen to be academic stars. There is no real equivalent in China.

February 21, 2012 @ 9:49 am | Comment
Hopefully this does describe the different systems of the same game…

February 21, 2012 @ 10:24 am | Comment

The only thing superb about the Economist’s piece is its badness. Most of the points it made were plainly wrong. It’s not even if it’s anti-China or not — it is as if it just doesn’t have the faintest clue about the topics in hand.

For instance, on the first point it makes, 6’3″ is not short for a PG. Actually quite possibly, it’s the ideal height internationally for a PG. Among all PGs of the Chinese national teams in the last 2 decades that I can remember, only 2 were taller than Lin and only 1 was significantly taller than him — Sun Yue is 6’8″ but most of the time he actually played a swingman between 2 (SG) and 3 (SF). Liu Wei, the current Chinese starting PG, is 6’2″. There have been quite a few starting PGs in CBA in the last decade shorter than 6′. For instance, Li Qun who was the Guangdong captain and was called up to a few Chinese national teams (Team B or C), was like 5’10” (officially listed as 5’11”). BTW, how Li Qun made it was a good story in itself… The plausible reason to me is that the Economist writer couldn’t tell the differences between Yao’s, Yi’s and Lin’s positions. If Lin was Muggsy Bogues, the point of height might have merit.

February 21, 2012 @ 11:57 am | Comment

The Economist article seems to make many points. On the height issue, there is certainly some ambiguity. Clearly, it’s not just the big men that make it into the “Chinese sports machine”, if for no other point of proof than the fact that they do have smaller players playing the ‘smaller’ positions. But for recreating the successful export of Yao Ming to the NBA, the bigs seem to be where it’s at, albeit with a very small sample size.

To discuss whether China can export a “Jeremy Lin” is actually pointless because it is far too broad a concept. Would the next Jeremy Lin need to be a devout Christian? And how does that contribute to basketball prowess. Does the next Jeremy Lin have to be the middle son with an older and a younger brother? That alone would seem to make it an impossible dream for China (at least for the foreseeable future). In fact, in China, Jeremy Lin wouldn’t have been born.

So what aspects of Jeremy Lin make him a compelling human interest/basketball story? Underdog from an unheralded background with a skill-set quite tailor-made for his position, who achieved success after biding his time and finally being given a chance, playing in a team-oriented system with average-to-good players who can pull their own weight. If that’s the metric, even Yao doesn’t fit, cuz he was a highly sought after big who was expected to do well from day 1(and he actually lived up to his billing, which in itself is a rarity these days; it’s too bad injuries prevented him from accomplishing more).

At this point, asking for another Jeremy Lin is way premature. Forget about an underdog who finds success. China first needs to show a trend towards being able to produce “likely” success stories (like more Yao Mings) before worrying about being able to produce “unlikely” ones. And she certainly hasn’t achieved the former yet.

February 21, 2012 @ 1:25 pm | Comment

The Economist piece is a travesty much like Times one.

@”Mr Lin is, put plainly, precisely everything that China’s state sport system cannot possibly produce”

That’s interesting because Mr. Lin has not receive a college scholarship from Pac-10 universities (Stanford, UCLA) after leading Palo Alto High to a state championship nor has been drafted in NBA after helping Harvard to get in the NCAA Championship under the American system.

The only time that he got his fame is out of desperation from a coach after 1st, 2nd, 3rd options as PG were injured or old.

@“Firstly, at a mere 6’3”—relatively short by basketball standards—Lin might not have registered with Chinese basketball scouts, who in their quest for suitable kids to funnel into the state sport system are obsessed with height over any individual passion for hoops.”

Absolutely ridiculous. Liu Wei, Xirelijiang, and 18 years old and 2012 CBA Rookie’s Challenge MVP Guo Ailun are 6’3″ and are around 200 lbs and has played for the Chinese National Team.

Yao Ming in September 2011, way before Lin’s sudden rise in NYC, wanted Lin to play for the Shanghai Sharks after seeing Lin play for Dongguan Leopards club in 2011 ABA Club Championship (seriously, someone should answer to James Fallows’ piece “How Would Jeremy Lin Fare in a Pickup Game in Beijing?”)

February 21, 2012 @ 2:43 pm | Comment

I’m not going to try to judge if the Economist is right or wrong about Mr. Lin. It’s the only paper I’ve subscribed to. A paper doesn’t need to be right – it needs to contain some decent information (the Economist does), should be fun to read (it is), and a reader needs to be judgmental (whatever he or she reads).

Time on the other hand bores me stiff.

February 21, 2012 @ 4:14 pm | Comment

Have to agree with Jxie and Jason here – the Economist piece takes the wrong tack. Like Li Na, Lin triumphed in spite of the system, not because of it.

February 21, 2012 @ 5:49 pm | Comment

To Jason,
that Lin was previously overlooked is of course part of the story. However, that doesn’t make him any less of a product of the “American” system. Palo Alto High. Harvard. Those sound fairly American to me. It certainly doesn’t contradict the Economist article’s assertion that Lin is something the Chinese state sport system could not have produced. If you want to counter that point, you need to find a player from the Chinese system that has a story like Lin. And as I said in #60, when one speaks of “somebody like Lin”, one needs to be clear about what parameters are being used in making that comparison.

BTW, even if Lin had gone to play for Yao Ming, that would still not make him a product of the Chinese state sport system.

February 21, 2012 @ 5:57 pm | Comment


You said, “if you want to counter that point, you need to find a player from the Chinese system that has a story like Lin.” but neither Times’ nor Economists’ parameters are the same as yours.

BTW I got interested in Jeremy Lin when he played in NBA Summer League 2010 when he schooled the #1 draft pick, John Wall. I am sure that Yao did so too, as he invited Jeremy to Taiwan in the same year to play a charity game under Yao’s foundation.

What I said about Yao’s interest in Jeremy to play in the CBA is not making Jeremy as a product of the Chinese state sport system rather they are looking for talent and not pigeon-holed into obsessing with height which Economist claims.

February 21, 2012 @ 7:02 pm | Comment

@SKC – Sorry, but Jaosn appears to have the facts on his side – the CBA does pick 6’3″-ers and under, even if they might favour the taller guys.

Moreover, I really can’t see Lin as a massive success story for the US system by itself, any more than Li Na is a success for the Chinese system. Lin could easily have spent the rest of his NBA career on the bench without being picked – and I guess there are plenty of players (of all colours and creeds) whose NBA careers are exactly like that.

Would Justin Lin have suceeded in the CBA? Well, he’s a good enough player. His religion might get in the way a bit, and I think he would likely be asked not to make a big thing out of it. It’s difficult for someone to pursue university and sports at the same time in China (and in a lot of other countries as well – the US is the only country I know of where universities systematically offer sports scholarships). Impossible? I think that’s far too strong a word.

February 21, 2012 @ 10:29 pm | Comment

@T E Low

US women’s gymnastics is better than China now based on the results from 2011 world champ. They actually has been historically better than china, they only lost the team event because two gymnasts were injured. And an american badminton player named howard bach actually won world championship a few years ago.


well several olympic gold medalist ended up going to peking university upon retirement (any certified athletes get extra points in the entrance exam, and with gold medals it’s pretty much automatic admission into a good univ). and many retired athletes actually went on and started decent businesses. also, the training center actually provide them decent well-rounded education (probably not AP levels but still decent enough to compare to regular US high school classes).

i paid to get trained at the cantonese province team so i had some first hand experiences. though the training for their athletes is tough, i wouldn’t call them slaves. they each have their own PC in their dorm room to go online or play games with, and they’re free to go out until 10 after training. most of the coaches treat the players like family. so i wouldn’t call the system inhumane.

but i have to say, US elite athletes are generally extremely talented such that they developed their ability because of their interest, not because they’re put into a state-owned system.

February 21, 2012 @ 10:55 pm | Comment

personally i find this clip classless

February 22, 2012 @ 12:11 am | Comment


The Economist article seems to make many points.

Check out a HH comment for the rebuttal of other points, if you are interested.

If you want to counter that point, you need to find a player from the Chinese system that has a story like Lin.

Comment #13. Zeng Lingxu.


US women’s gymnastics is better than China now based on the results from 2011 world champ. They actually has been historically better than china, they only lost the team event because two gymnasts were injured. And an american badminton player named howard bach actually won world championship a few years ago.

US men’s gymnastics team has been not too shabby either. In the past several decades, the US men’s team has won fewer golds than Russia and China, but not by that much. The curious thing is the collapse of the Russian men’s program. 2008 was an anomaly with China being the host. My projection is that in London the US and China will win roughly the same numbers of golds in gymnastics (with men’s advantage going to China, and women’s going to the US). Speaking of which, my projection of golds is: China: 42 to 45, the US: 35 to 38. China is an underdog according to the latest betting odds — it’s a raging buy.

Howard Bach was a good story, but his double badminton 2005 World Champion was way overrated — in 2008 he took a beating by a Chinese pair at quarterfinal. It took me a while to figure this out — my picks on Olympic Games prior to 1996 were off by quite a bit, but picks since 2000 have been dead on. Except football (soccer) and tennis, all other sports pivot on Olympics, which are held once every 4 years. The world titles (world championship games, world cups, etc.) mean very little in the year-1 events post an Olympic Game. Immediately after an Olympic Game, it is a good time for the top players to goof off, smoke a few joints (e.g. Phelps), have babies, and for top pairs in double games to split up and regroup. Year-3 events start to mean a lot, but you still have to pay attention to the game-changing players (e.g. again, Phelps) and follow their latest forms.

BTW, once you win a gold for team China, unless you are monumentally stupid, your life is largely set. The hardest is what if you can never quite reach that height? Professional sports are brutal as a career choice. For every heart-warming Jeremy Lin story, there are hundreds if not thousands who can never make it. Even if Lin hadn’t got his chance of lifetime in Knicks, his career would have turned out ok money-wise — he was paid a few hundred Ks already by the Warriors, and if he had to play in CBA, his annual income would still be far better a 8-to-5 job. A lot of foreign golfers from countries like Australia and South Africa want to make a living in the US and start playing in “minor leagues” such as the Nationwide Tour. Many of them sleep in cars, drive from tournament to tournament, and only shower in the clubhouses. Some made it and became another versions of Jeremy Lin story, but many don’t. It’s a hard hard hard choice in life — on average just purely from a monetary standpoint they are better off not having any talents to begin with. Maybe youthful dreams don’t really have a price?

February 22, 2012 @ 1:20 am | Comment

To Jason #65:
“but neither Times’ nor Economists’ parameters are the same as yours.”
—that’s true. As I said, in particular, I found the “religion” angle to be silly. I doubt his Christian faith has any bearing on his ability to run the high screen roll. All I’m saying is that when people talk about finding “someone like Lin”, they should be clear about what aspects of Lin are being used in comparison.

So if you say that China has produced players “like Lin” by virtue of the fact that they have homegrown 6’3″ players running the point on their CBA teams and national team, then OK. But if being “like Lin” means a player of Chinese ethnic descent becoming the starting PG on an NBA team (for instance, and dispensing with the rags-to-riches feel-good aspects which merely add to the degree-of-difficulty in finding a true comparator), then the Chinese sports system indeed hasn’t gotten very far (as compared to, say, exporting bigs like Yao).

I agree insofar as the Economist jumping to conclusions about a height fetish based on the success of Yao. In fact, trying to decide what the Chinese sports system can produce in terms of elite NBA level basketball talent is difficult, since the entire sample is Yao and not much else.

Lin is a success story for the “US system” in the sense that he took whatever talent he had and honed it within that system. But he’s certainly not a success story for the NBA pro scouting system, or NCAA college scouting system.

I agree that impossible is too strong a word. And you can’t prove a negative. But to date, the Chinese sports system has yet to provide proof positive that it is in fact possible to replicate a Lin-style story.

February 22, 2012 @ 1:27 am | Comment

To Jxie,
I don’t do HH but found some interesting stuff on Zeng Lingxu on Google. Thanks for the heads-up.

“…graduating with a bachelors degree from Tsinghua’s school of economics and management.
Now a professional athlete, Zeng’s school background makes him a rather rare case in Chinese sport in which most athletes come up through the state-run sport system.
“They (Lin and Zeng) almost developed the same way; playing while studying in university and then joining the top league as a pro,” said prominent Chinese basketball commentator Zhang Weiping.
“From school to the pros, Lin rode a typical track in the US, but Zeng seems a special case in China because we have a different talent-cultivating system,” said Zhang. ”

That is indeed very similar, right down to their academic majors and going to a good school. Maybe Zeng will start a trend in China. To me, his path is similar enough to Lin (at least from the basketball standpoint) to serve as a counterpoint to the Economist article; the underdog/human interest angle would really be expecting too much.

February 22, 2012 @ 4:07 am | Comment

The Time piece ignores star PRC hurdler Liu Xiang, who was rejected by the Chinese system at an early age, and forged his own career.

February 22, 2012 @ 5:01 am | Comment

Just read the NYT piece by Yardley that Mike linked to at #58. Didn’t seem too controversial to me…or controversial at all. Seemed mostly to be about the business end of things, rather than the athletic aspects, except for some observations by none other than Yao Ming.

February 22, 2012 @ 6:29 am | Comment

I don’t think it was meant to be controversial (though some find controversy in everything). Just an example of the different ways of doing things.

On a related note, I wonder if the sports question is in any way related to the academic question. I work in a scientific environment and pretty much all my research materiel is from the US and Europe. I do have some Japanese papers but from China there’s pretty much nothing. Now, I know Chinese are good scientists – I work with many. Many of the papers I use are filled with Chinese names. So why is the research from China not more prevalent? Oddly, in my field (cancer research) Indian research isn’t too prevalent either, despite, again, the massive number of Indian scientists I know here and in the publications I have from US/EU.

February 22, 2012 @ 7:42 am | Comment

It takes time to establish a base. The scientists themselves probably need experience.

February 22, 2012 @ 8:49 am | Comment

Jeremy Lin is a great athlete and good kid, humble, hardworking, but also intune with American culture and fit in well with his black team mates.

However, to think that somehow Jeremy Lin’s achivement represents some kind of elevation of the status of the Asian man in the US is of the utmost naivety, and underestimates the bestial and ruthless nature of Anglo-Saxon social dynamics.

The Anglo Saxons are at their core brutes – with much stronger animal instincts than the Orientals. To overcome Anglo Saxon dominance for the past 300 years, is to be every more brutish – but only as a means to overpower them so as to allow a permanent Sinic-centered harmonious world to forever persist over the human civilization.

So, what is the way to overcome Anglo Saxon dominance? Simple, to have enough nuclear warheads as to ensure the elimination of 50% of American and Western European population centers. Only when this capability exists can China sit down with the brutes and talk leisurely about such pleasant and gentlemanly issues as human rights, religious freedom, environmental protection, etc.

Leisure and politeness are backed by raw power.

February 22, 2012 @ 8:57 am | Comment

#75 Either a wind-up or more badly digested Thomas Hobbes.
….a permanent Sinic-centered harmonious world to forever persist over the human civilization.

Forget about Western civilisation. This sort of stuff would scare the bejesus out of China’s immediate Asian neighbours. Little wonder Vietnam has let bygones be bygones and formed an implicit relationship with the US. Read up on developing anti-sino sentiment in Mymnar.

Come on Mr King. Fess up. Richard asked you to breathe a bit of life into this thread about a sport which the great majority of global ctizens don’t give a rats about.

February 22, 2012 @ 9:12 am | Comment

So stephenking has once again shown himself to be an equal opportunity racist, comfortable with backwards stereotypes of Chinese and “anglosaxons” alike. At least hes consistent, I suppose. And of course he’s a warmonger as well. I guess that fits the demographic nicely.

February 22, 2012 @ 9:48 am | Comment

To mike,
I don’t think it was meant to be controversial either. But Jason seemed to take exception to it, without saying why.

February 22, 2012 @ 9:50 am | Comment

@StephenKing: Please define “Anglo-saxon” for me. I suspect your answer will confirm that you are an idiot as well as a racist.

February 22, 2012 @ 9:53 am | Comment

Anglo-Saxons? Thought they were beaten by the Normans in 1066….

February 22, 2012 @ 9:56 am | Comment

Stephen King, I am putting you in my moderated comments queue because I think you are looking for trouble. Not banned, but consider yourself warned. That comment was straight out of the Wayne playbook.

February 22, 2012 @ 9:56 am | Comment

Cookie, how much time? Given the scientific diaspora from China, there’s a decent base already set up and it has been there for decades. OK, I’ll give you a few years off for Maoism and all that entailed in the 50s and 60s (and the war from the 30s and 40s) but that’s just to set up the research institutions in China – in all that time there was research being done by Chinese.
I don’t really understand it – the scientists are good, excellent, brilliant but none want to go to China (at least, none that I know). The ones I read about go to China to make money – science seems to be secondary to lucre (though “read” is the pertinent word here…).

February 22, 2012 @ 10:06 am | Comment

Goldthorpe, Mao stopped the college education in the Cultural Revolution. It wasn’t restarted until 1977. Plus China had been practically sealed off from the world for near 20 years then (including the Soviet Union). Well into the 80s, in some majors with more breakthroughs and advancements globally in the decades prior, sometimes textbooks were carbon copies of hand-written ones — fresh off somebody’s manual translated works and/or foreign college school notes. It takes a long time to build the scientific research system and culture. Also if the funding didn’t come from private sources (i.e. immediate payoff), the Chinese government was mostly starving for money until in the 00s. It was hard to resist the temptation of making 10x more overseas for most researchers, which is why you see a lot of Chinese names in research papers but not from China.

In the last several years, The Chinese government has been very aggressive in paying top money for oversea stars to fill the college faculty rosters. In biotech field, there are two people that you may want to follow, Shi Yigong and Rao Yi. It’ll take a while to see the result. Shi has an interesting blog in Chinese.

Sort of FYI. The US became the largest economy in the world in the decade prior to 1900, yet in the first 2 decades of the Nobel Prize history, it had 2 natural science winners, and one of them was not even born in the US.

February 22, 2012 @ 11:21 am | Comment

@S. K. Cheung

I was talking about the Time Magazine piece not the NYT.

@a player of Chinese ethnic descent becoming the starting PG on an NBA team

Liu Wei and Sun Yue has gotten a chance to play for NBA teams yet they are treated the same way as Jeremy Lin before Jeremy got his starting position: miniscue playing time and danger of getting cut (yes even with the NY Knicks)

February 22, 2012 @ 12:33 pm | Comment

To Jason,
you did refer to “Times” in #61 and 65, rather than “Time”. But I’m sorry for misunderstanding. However, I don’t know which Time Magazine article you’re referring to in that case.

Liu Wei never really made it. On the other hand, Sun Yue was actually drafted so he was at one time more highly touted than Jeremy Lin ever was. But he never stuck. So he doesn’t really compare to Lin at this point, nor does he disprove the Economist article’s point. Zeng Lingxu, as Jxie referred to, seems to come the closest at this point, especially with regard to showing that a high-level smaller player can in fact be developed outside of the state sports machine system. If Zeng ever makes it to the NBA, he would be an even stronger counterpoint to the Economist.

February 22, 2012 @ 2:36 pm | Comment

I shall keep an eye out 🙂 Just seems odd for a country that can build cities and transport systems in less time than most other countries can finish discussing the logistics of it all…..well, you get the picture, I hope.

Most US research still isn’t done by American-born Americans, I’ll wager. I dare say most of the groundwork in the labs is done by non-Americans. Bit like here in Auckland Uni, NZ….

February 23, 2012 @ 4:33 am | Comment

Whoever this is, who cares. This is the entertianment district. Sports are just for fun, and for when you are not going into to battle. Arming millions of children with the ideas that allows them to join the military in some form or another. Remember 2001, well that is pretty much it.

About Americans. To the standard American, all East Asianers are one race group. Not two, three, or ten. When this commercial hits, it is not meant for the mass media it is meant for the sports fans who barely even comes into contact with an Asian person. Great look at Jackie Chan crawling on buildings with super Kung Fu powers, hanging out with pigs. America is a failed Canada, and it’s primary resources is policing the world. It’s citizens are just tools for it’s primary people. Those who are seperate but equal. You think that is extinct, think again.

In short, who cares. Because most real East Asian people who do not even know what
“English” is, are probably using a steel plow in some garden right now. While the minority of the brainwashed educated are like “Hey that is commercial” but the truth, in terms of Chinese customs that westerners understand, the fortune cookie stands out. Would you prefer somebody with a Mirror to ward of demons in a 3d commercial using Jeremy Lin as a Good luck charm??? Okay.

Also Asianers who are productive ( and I mean really caniving, cheap productive ) do not care about this because they will probably never even own a television.

February 23, 2012 @ 7:31 pm | Comment

To the standard American, all East Asianers are one race group.

I can feel the irony oozing between my toes.

February 24, 2012 @ 9:26 pm | Comment

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