February 3, 2023

Eileen Gu sparks praise and debate after thanking China in farewell post

3 min read

After winning two gold medals, countless hearts and a lot of fame and fortune, San Francisco-born and raised Fresky Prodigy is wrapping up her months in China, where she is known as Go Ailing.

It’s an expected departure – the 18-year-old is heading to Stanford in the fall, having postponed her entry for a year to focus on the Olympic Games.

But its Goodbye post On China’s Weibo-like platform Weibo, it still caused a stir among its 6.7 million followers and other users, sparking both praise and debate.
A related hashtag “Gu Ailing posts on Weibo to thank China” became the platform’s top trending topic on Thursday. As of Friday, it has risen 290 million views.

Her fans, many of them young Chinese women, ran to thank her. “You’re welcome because you are one of us,” said a leading commentary with 41,000 votes. “Thank you for bringing me so much positive energy,” said another.

Gu also posted on Instagram: “Thank you China for a few months of unforgettable and never ending love.”

But not everyone in China praised his “thanks” – at least, the way he said it.

On Weibo, some accused Guo of acting “like a foreigner” and thanked China for its remarkable sense of distance. Others questioned why he did not say “thank you motherland” or “thank you (my) country” like other Chinese players).

“Ultimately she thinks of herself as an American. She only temporarily joined China,” the statement said.

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The mixed reaction to Gu’s post shows how severely the young star faced scrutiny while trying to walk the difficult path of being both American and Chinese during the geopolitical tensions between the two countries.

Born and raised in California, Gu chose to compete for China in 2019 – where his mother was born. But despite its widespread acceptance within China, it is questionable about its nationality – and by extension, its loyalty to the country it now represents.

According to the Olympic Charter, an athlete must be a citizen of the country for which he is competing. A contestant who is a citizen of two or more countries at the same time may represent one of them.

But China does not allow dual citizenship, and even cracking down on people holding two passports in recent years, the government urges the public to report them.

Guo has never publicly shared whether he renounced his U.S. citizenship to compete with China, and speculation has grown since he applied for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program in 2021, which only Open to US citizens or permanent residents.

At press conferences, Guo repeatedly avoided questions about his citizenship, often saying: “When I’m in China, I’m Chinese, when I’m in the United States, I’m American.”

She has repeatedly pointed to this dual identity, thanked her American coaches and expressed her desire to impress other young female athletes in China.

But he found himself in an impossible position during the Olympics, facing criticism from some in the West for representing China, as well as a universal PR campaign in China that gave him the country’s sporting dreams and soft power. Presented as the face of victory. .

Meanwhile, Chinese officials and state media have also cautiously avoided the question of Gu’s nationality, instead of emphasizing his Chinese heritage. Silent ambiguity. Speculation took place That the Chinese government has lowered its rules in order to obtain an exemption for Guo to have two passports – which is angering some in China.

“Why don’t we review his dual citizenship? Is ‘everyone equal before the law’ just a lie?” A Weibo user asked.

“Did you just get it? The law is for ordinary people to use,” replied another.

She had earlier been criticized for not singing the national anthem while the Chinese flag was being hoisted during a medal ceremony at the Winter Olympics. He was also ridiculed for not recognizing his privilege, claiming that anyone in China could download VPN for free on the App Store. Most of the criticism against him has been censored.

As of Thursday evening, Weibo had also restricted the latest talk about Gu’s farewell. The search for the trending hashtag “Gu Ailing posts on Weibo to thank China” now appears only on official account posts – and not surprisingly, everyone is appreciating it.

CNN’s Jesse Young contributed to this report.

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