A top pool player who gave up his Republic of China (ROC) citizenship to represent China is expected to become the first Chinese national to serve in Taiwan’s military, officials said yesterday.
Wu Chia-ching (吳珈慶), 22, a world champion in 2005, rocked Taiwanese sports when he announced in April he had become a Chinese citizen and would represent China in a pool tournament.
Despite his new identity, Taiwan’s authorities have insisted that he still has to complete his mandatory one-year military service or risk going to jail.
Wu has applied to return to Taiwan by the middle of next month to fulfill his military service, a National Immigration Agency official said.
The Ministry of National Defense said he would become the first Chinese citizen to undergo military service in Taiwan.
“He is a Chinese citizen now, so why should he serve in Taiwan’s military?” his father, Wu Cheng-chung (吳誠中), asked the Chinese-language United Daily News. “On the other hand, he doesn’t want to become a fugitive.”
Wu was approached by Singapore in 2008 and while the deal fell through, the local billiard association allegedly barred him from competing as punishment, which prompted him to turn to China.
Wu is believed to be the first active Taiwanese athlete to renounce citizenship to compete for China, fueling concern for other young athletes fleeing to China.
China has been wooing Taiwan’s top players in other fields as well, such as basketball, baseball and golf, as a recent improvement in ties between the two sides has made it easier for athletes to move to China.
The most alarming development for local fans is perhaps in baseball, where Taiwanese coaches have been credited with playing an important part in China’s rise in the sport.