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Jeremy Lin's nationality stirs debate in Taiwan's city council

2012/05/23 20:16:45

Taipei, May 23 (CNA) The nationality of New York Knicks star Jeremy Lin became a topic of debate in a local council Wednesday after a councilor said some students had points deducted from their school test scores for identifying the NBA hoopster as Taiwanese.

Huang Kuo-shu, a member of the Taichung city council in central Taiwan, said at a question-and-answer session that first-year students at the city's Chujen Junior High School were asked about Lin's nationality in a recent written physical education test.

"Lin is a pride of Taiwan because his parents come from Taiwan, but half of the Chujen students saw their test scores marked down because they identified him as a Taiwan national," Huang said.

A Harvard economics graduate, Lin was born in the United States to Taiwanese immigrant parents. The 23-year-old point guard, the first NBA player of Taiwanese descent, came off the Knicks bench to global stardom in February after leading the struggling team to a seven-game winning streak.

Noting that Lin's grandmother, a resident of neighboring Changhua County, has said on many occasions that Lin is Taiwanese, Huang said the school's test question poured cold water on the students' passion and hurt Taiwan's national identity.

He asked department chiefs of the Taichung city government who were present at the session about their views on the question. While many of them said they see Lin as Taiwanese, others said he is American.

For his part, Taichung Mayor Jason Hu said that although Lin is legally an American citizen, he is affectionately thought of by many local people as Taiwanese.

"As to how he identifies himself, that is a question only he can answer," Hu said.

"My opinion is that this is a good question for teaching our students how to differentiate between citizenship and ethnic identity," Hu said, adding that he personally regards Lin as Taiwanese.

Lai Ching-piao, director of the city government's Education Department, said the school should have made its test question more unequivocal by asking instead about Lin's "formal or legal nationality."

"We will ask the school to return the lost marks to students who identified Lin as Taiwanese," Lai said.

Lin has been named to the USA Select Team, the team that will help prepare the United States' basketball team for the London Olympic Games.

Scott Davis, a noted American sports columnist, said Tuesday that Lin's selection is significant for several reasons:

First, his knee must be feeling better, Davis said. Lin underwent surgery April 2 to repair a meniscus tear in his left knee.

Moreover, Davis wrote that playing for extended periods of time with some of the best players in the NBA can be a valuable learning experience.

"Although training only lasts about one week, it could be beneficial to Lin's development as a player," Davis added.

(By Chen Ching-ping and Sofia Wu)