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SBD Global/September 23, 2013/People and Pop Culture

Former NBA Basketball Player Yao Ming Sets Sights On Chinese Homeland

Yao Ming said that his business plans are still 'immature.'
YAO MING "was the super-modest, super-tall basketball star from China who took America by storm," according to Patti Waldmeir of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Now "he wants to make a difference back home." Yao arrived on the U.S. sporting stage "just as China was engineering a parallel rise in its global stature," from int'l pariah to global superpower. And by succeeding at something that millions of Americans genuinely care about, "he achieved more than an army of ping-pong-playing diplomats." Yao "made people start to look up to China, not down." With his playing career over, he is also "breaking new ground in the world of Chinese philanthropy." He "hopes to move towards transparency" in how his own Yao Ming Foundation, established to help victims of the '08 Sichuan earthquake, spends its money. But "when it comes to his plans for a business career to rival the sports one that ended prematurely," he does not have much to say, noting that his ideas are still "immature." Operation Yao the Businessman "has not yet really got off the ground." Still, one thing is clear: "making lots of money is part of the eventual plan." Is he happy "with the state of the nation that helped him become so famous?" Yao said, "Since the end of the cultural revolution we have made great achievements, but we can't stop. In Shanghai, Beijing, people are very wealthy, they have good food, nice clothes, good schools. But the spiritual part, that you cannot buy. We have to figure that out." Yao "has changed the way the world sees Chineseness -- and it is so much more than just a height thing" (FT, 9/20).
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