In an interview with American Chinese basketball superstar Jeremy Lin, the Chinese Central Television (CCTV) reporter asked Lin whether he would play basketball for China in international matches. Lin said that he had not made up his mind yet.
The reporter is being condemned widely on the Internet. “Are gold medals so important that China wants an athlete from another country to help it win them?” asked some bloggers.
However, human history was a history of grabbing and snatching from abroad for thousands of years. Over 2,000 years ago, there were seven kingdoms in China. Qin, the strongest among them, fought one after another war to grab land from other kingdoms, but there was no United Nations to condemn it or a superpower to punish it for aggression. Finally Qin robbed all the land of the other six kingdoms, but the King of Qin who was later called Qin Shihuang, was praised in the recent popular film “Hero” for unification of China (a successful PRC propaganda) in spite of his cruel exploitation and persecution of Chinese people.
Quite a few Chinese still regard Genghis Khan as a great Chinese hero who conquered many countries, i.e. robbed all the land in those countries. They prefer not to remember that China was also a country whose land was grabbed by him. At first, his troops wanted to turn all Chinese land into grassland for breeding sheep and horses, but talented Chinese intellectuals persuaded them to allow Chinese people to continue their farming and thus create much more wealth for them.
Anyway, the Mongolian tyrants are not condemned for their grabbing.
In our current civilized world, grabbing by force is not feasible, but we can attract talented people by high remuneration and great respect. Obama precisely wants to do so. In his recent State of Union speech, he wants to change immigration rules to keep in America talent foreign intellectuals trained by American colleges. Certainly the same treatment shall be given to talented athletes too. Didn’t Yao Ming, a basketball star well-known in China, play NBA games in America?
The question is not whether a country is justified in grabbing talents by lawful means from abroad but whether it is cost effective for the country. Paying US$1,000,000 annual salary to win a gold medal seems too expensive, but if Lin is employed to set an example and help training Chinese basketball players and turn Chinese basketball matches into a business generating billions of dollars like the NBA in America, the return will be huge compared with the investment.