Tennis Player Hsieh Allegedly Offered $1.6M Sponsorship From Chinese Liquor Company
Taiwanese tennis champion Hsieh Su-wei "tapped into her homeland's deep political insecurities after word spread that she was willing to become a citizen of China," according to Dan Levin of the N.Y. TIMES. That is, "if she gets the right endorsement contract." A Chinese liquor company had offered Hsieh, 27, 10M renminbi ($1.63M) a year "to represent the western province of Qinghai in China's national sports competition." That "would require her to renounce her Taiwanese citizenship." Of course, it could have been a bluff -- "pressing a geopolitical hot button to drum up support." Either way, "it effectively got Taiwan's attention." China and Taiwan "have been archrivals" since '49. Taiwan's government "has mobilized domestic companies to come to the rescue." These include the state-owned Taiwan Tobacco & Liquor Company, which has agreed to pay Hsieh about $167,700 "to endorse Taiwan Beer." Company spokesperson Su K’uei-yang said, "Our priority is that Su-wei can stay in Taiwan and play tennis with peace of mind." The deal, which the company hopes to finalize later this summer, "would not prohibit her from signing with a Chinese company." The family "has refused to identify the Chinese liquor company offering a sponsorship deal." New doubts arose last week, "when the vice director of the Qinghai provincial sports bureau denied that such an offer was on the table" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/19).