Although Chinese Taipei Basketball Association (CTBA) chairman Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) has expressed an interest in inviting US National Basketball Association (NBA) sensation Jeremy Lin (林書豪) — the first Taiwanese American to play in the NBA — to represent the national basketball team in international tournaments, compulsory military service could prove an obstacle.
Although Lin was born in the US and does not have a Republic of China (ROC) passport, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman James Chang (章計平) said the ministry would have no problem in issuing him with one if he applied.
“Lin’s parents are both ROC citizens and the law allows dual citizenship, so he [Lin] would be issued an ROC passport if he applied,” Chang said.
However, the compulsory military service required of all ROC male nationals between 19 and 36 years of age could be an issue.
“If Lin comes to Taiwan as a visitor, there would be no problem because he’s an American, but if he wanted to be a member of our national basketball team, he would need to obtain ROC citizenship and household registration with an ‘overseas citizen’ stamp,” National Conscription Agency spokesman Tsai Kun-fa (蔡錕發) told the Taipei Times via telephone yesterday. “If he stays in the country for more than a year, or stays more than 183 days twice before he turns 36, then he would be drafted.”
However, Tsai said that although the military service issue could pose a problem for Lin — in the event he wanted to be a member of the national team — it would not be a very big problem.
“If he does not live in the country, but only plays for the national team, he would not overstay,” Tsai said. “Even if he does, he could apply for the sort of replacement service reserved for athletes in national teams in international tournaments, which would only require 12 days of military service.”
“Of course, that’s only if he wants to play in the national team. So far he hasn’t expressed that interest,” Tsai added.
Lin has captured worldwide attention since coming off the New York Knicks bench and helping his team to a run of victories.
Taiwan is firmly in the grasp of “Linsanity” and Changhua County, which is calling itself Lin’s ancestral home, said yesterday that it plans to make the player an honorary resident.
“Lin is the glory of Changhua and the pride of Taiwan. We are planning to make him an honorary resident in recognition of his outstanding performances,” the county government said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Taiyen Co, Taiwan’s largest salt maker, rolled out special commemorative bottles of sports drinks bearing the label “17 Taiwan glory,” a reference to Lin’s squad number. It has also pledged to recruit him as a product spokesman.
Additional reporting by AFP