x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

China fans fret over Yao Ming dynasty

Some fans are crying foul over the possibility that the first-born child of Yao Ming, the Chinese basketball player, could have an American passport.

Some fans are crying foul over the possibility that the first-born child of Yao Ming, the Chinese basketball player, could have an American passport. Yao, one of China's top players, and his wife Ye Li have headed back to the United States, where Yao plays centre for the Houston Rockets in the NBA, ahead of the birth of their first child, which is reportedly due sometime between May and July.

If the child is born in the USA, he or she will automatically be considered an American citizen - a prospect some nervous supporters say could potentially deprive China of a new basketball superstar. "This will not only be a huge loss to Chinese basketball but, as far as feelings are concerned, will be something very difficult for Chinese fans to accept," the Chongqing Business Daily said, citing angry online comments.

But on popular website sina.com, some users expressed support over the possibility of an American Yao. "To not become an American is stupid," said a poster named Limin. "China is a paradise for officials, but hell for ordinary people." Another user from Shanghai named Kekeweiqi said: "We have no right to interfere in the future of baby Yao. When baby Yao grows up, he or she will have the right to choose his or her own nationality and occupation."

Yao and his wife have been in China for several months as the centre recovers from a broken foot that has forced him out for the entire NBA season and he has been helping manage the Shanghai Sharks, his former team which he now owns. Zhang Mingji, Yao's agent, said that the place of birth of the child was a "family matter" and was not an issue up for debate, the Chongqing paper said. * With agencies