China’s dar­ling, a unit­ing force?

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

CHINA’S Fu Yuan­hui, the Olympic swim­mer who won le­gions of fans in Rio for her joy­ful over-en­thu­si­asm, said this week­end that Chi­nese peo­ple and Hong Kongers were “one fam­ily” as fears grow about Bei­jing’s in­creas­ing in­flu­ence in the semi-au­ton­o­mous city.

Fu is part of a 64-strong del­e­ga­tion of Chi­nese ath­letes that ar­rived in Hong Kong on Au­gust 27 for a three­day tour, with thou­sands of tick­ets to sports events snapped up by res­i­dents ahead of their ar­rival.

“I have al­ways felt that we are one fam­ily. We are brothers and sis­ters,” Fu, 20, said at a press con­fer­ence when asked about her re­cep­tion in Hong Kong.

The swim­ming star said she had many fans in the city and had been look­ing for­ward to the visit.

Fuhad­won­praiseon­line­for­s­peak­ing frankly about hav­ing her pe­riod while com­pet­ing in Rio – long a taboo sub­ject for fe­male ath­letes – while her goofy and charm­ing pool-side an­tics have also turned her into a vi­ral sen­sa­tion.

De­spite win­ning bronze rather than gold, Fu has shot to pop­u­lar­ity for her like­able man­ner. “I utilised my pre­his­tor­i­cal pow­ers,” she said in one in­ter­view af­ter com­ing third in the women’s 100-me­tre back­stroke.

“I like Hong Kong, and al­ways wanted to come. But I didn’t get a chance to be­cause I was al­ways busy train­ing,” she said. “There’s a lot of good food and fun places in Hong Kong. I’m look­ing for­ward to them.”

Some have seen the visit as a bridge-build­ing ex­er­cise be­tween main­land China and the city, where sup­port for an in­de­pen­dence move­ment has surged. Many young ac­tivists are frus­trated at the fail­ure of mass pro-democ­racy ral­lies in 2014 to win any po­lit­i­cal re­forms from Bei­jing.

Hong Kong was handed back to China by Bri­tain in 1997 un­der an agree­ment that pro­tects its free­doms for 50 years, but con­cerns have grown that such free­doms are now fad­ing as Bei­jing in­creases its in­flu­ence across a range of ar­eas, from pol­i­tics to the me­dia.

“The del­e­ga­tion’s visit is def­i­nitely a good thing to pro­mote Hong Kong cit­i­zens’ iden­ti­fi­ca­tion with Chi­nese glory and pride,” Zhang Dingzhun, deputy di­rec­tor of the Cen­ter for Ba­sic Laws of Hong Kong and Ma­cau at Shen­zhen Univer­sity, told the Global Times on last week.

The city’s chief sec­re­tary Car­rie Lam also said the visit il­lus­trated the good re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two places. –

Photo: AFP

Fu Yuan­hui, who won a bronze medal in swim­ming for China, speaks at a press con­fer­ence in Hong Kong on Au­gust 27.

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