The nationality of New York Knicks star Jeremy Lin (林書豪) became a topic of debate in the Greater Taichung City Council on Wednesday after a councilor said some students lost points in a school test for identifying the NBA hoopster as Taiwanese.
Greater Taichung Councilor Huang Kuo-shu (黃國書) said at a question-and-answer session that first-year students at Chujen Junior-High School were asked about Lin’s nationality in a recent written physical education test.
“Lin is the pride of Taiwan because his parents come from Taiwan, but half of the Chujen students had their test scores marked down because they identified him as Taiwanese,” Huang said.
A Harvard economics graduate, Lin was born in the US to Taiwanese immigrant parents. The 23-year-old point guard, the first NBA player of Taiwanese descent, came off the Knicks bench to global stardom in February after leading the struggling team to a seven-game winning streak.
Saying that Lin’s grandmother, a resident of Changhua County, has said on many occasions that Lin is Taiwanese, Huang said the school’s attitude poured cold water on students’ passion and hurt Taiwanese identity.
He asked Taichung education officials who were present at the session about their views on the question. While many of them said they considered Lin to be Taiwanese, others said he is a US citizen.
Greater Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) said that although Lin is legally a US citizen, he is affectionately thought of by many local people as Taiwanese.
“As to how he identifies himself, that is a question only he can answer,” Hu said.
“My opinion is that this is a good question to teach our students how to differentiate between citizenship and ethnic identity,” Hu said, adding that he personally regards Lin as Taiwanese.
Lai Ching-piao (賴清標), director of Taichung’s Education Department, said the school should have made its test question more unequivocal by asking instead about Lin’s “formal or legal nationality.”
“We will ask the school to reinstate the marks deducted from students who identified Lin as Taiwanese,” Lai said.
Lin has been named to the USA Select Team, which will help the US basketball team prepare for the London Olympic Games.
US sports columnist Scott Davis said on Tuesday that Lin’s selection was significant for several reasons.
First, his knee must be feeling better, Davis said. Lin underwent surgery on April 2 to repair a meniscus tear in his left knee.
Playing for extended periods of time with some of the best players in the NBA can also be a valuable learning experience, Davis added.
“Although training only lasts about one week, it could be beneficial to Lin’s development as a player,” he wrote.