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NBA Icon Yao Ming Sees International Exchanges Helping Young Chinese Basketball Talent


Former NBA star Yao Ming achieved success in the world’s most prestigious basketball league in part through an early start as a player. The Shanghai native studied in a sports academy from age12, before a career as an eight-time NBA all-star center of the Houston Rockets and a global celebrity. No other Chinese player has had the same impact.

In an interview with Forbes in New York last week, he expressed hope that the end of the Covid pandemic will pave the way for more young athletes from China, the world’s second most populous nation, to travel overseas and compete.

“We’ve lost a lot of time because of the pandemic,” Yao said. “I’m glad this is over.”

Now 43 years old and president of the Chinese Basketball Association, Yao sees ““more work to do with all of the basketball colleagues around the world.”

Yao was in New York as part of a U.S. trip last week by a group of 30 mainland Chinese visitors to promote people-to-people ties between the two countries ahead of a possible meeting between President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping in San Francisco in November. (See related post here.) Members of the group also include Lan Xue, dean of Schwarzman College at Tsinghua University, billionaire Cao Dewang, chairman of Fuyao Glass, Zhu Min, former deputy governor of China’s central bank, and Da Wei is the director of the Center for International Security and Strategy at Tsinghua University.

China has plenty of potential global stars in the making, Yao said. “I’m sure we have a lot of talent, but discovery is an easy part. Development is a hard one,” he said.

One direction for future work is to encourage scholarships and participation in overseas competition, including in the U.S., by high-school students and young athletes from China “to help them reach their goal.”

Asked what it takes to be a leader in today’s complex world, Yao emphasized the importance of a clear focus.

“(I) just try to focus on the work I have in my hand,” Yao said. “Also try (to) balance the time between the office and home. That’s all.”

See related posts:

U.S. Business Group Meets China’s Foreign Minister, Lauds Exchanges Ahead Of APEC Meeting

Asia Holds Investment Potential Despite Tensions, Slowing China Growth — Alibaba Chairman Joe Tsai

China’s Economy Facing “Tremendous Challenges,” Former Deputy Central Bank Chief Says

Chinese Billionaire’s Taikang Insurance Eyes New U.S. Investments

Beijing Has “Plenty Of Dry Powder,” Can Manage Economic Stresses: U.S.-China Business Forum

@rflannerychina

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