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Chinese sporting event thrills Bay Area

By CHANG JUN in Redwood City, California | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-08-14 10:06

Zhang Jianmin, China's Consul-General in San Francisco, speaks at the opening ceremony of the Overseas Chinese Sports Tournament, which is held in Redwood City, California on Saturday. Provided to China Daily

Unity, peace, inclusiveness and sportsmanship were the themes at events of this year's Overseas Chinese Sports Tournament.

Some events in the tournament — the largest of its kind outside of the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan — were held Saturday at Sequoia High School in Redwood City, about 25 miles south of San Francisco.

Nineteen US elected officials throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, representatives from business and academia, and China's top diplomat in Northern California attended an opening ceremony.

The tournament's organizer, the Northern California Chinese Culture-Athletic Federation, said that the number of athletes and audience members exceeded 2,000, which is a record figure since the inception of the federation 20 years ago.

"Sports can break barriers. It transcends differences. It brings people together. It makes our society more inclusive and harmonious," said Zhang Jianmin, China's consul general in San Francisco, who said that "this is the very reason why this tournament has been so popular in the Bay Area".

The tournament offers 18 categories of sporting events, including the traditional, such as swimming and volleyball, and the newly adopted, such as square dance, a popular exercise of middle-aged women in China that is usually performed to music in public areas of a mall, park or community center.

The track and field event Saturday drew about 200 athletes who are both physically and academically strong.

"About 50 are Tsinghua graduates, and 70 are representing Peking University,"Betty Li said,one of the organizing committee members. Li was referring to China's two most prestigious universities. "Competition became fierce and intense."

The schedule of different competitions at various venues stretches from as early as July to as late as December, said Li, adding that the aim of the tournament is to encourage as many overseas Chinese as possible to pursue an active lifestyle.

The tournament also aims to connect the "Chinese community" with different ethnic groups. "We have been mobilizing our community leaders to participate and take charge in different events," said Li.

"I believe sports is a superb platform, through which our overseas Chinese can interact with people from different backgrounds, to communicate on the track field, in the swimming lanes. … Through our efforts, we are refining our collective image as overseas Chinese," said Li.

"Yes, we are of Chinese descent, Li said. "Yes, we continuously contribute to the United States and make it a better place for all. We are building the US-China friendship bridge."

Zhang emphasized the importance of a healthy China-US relationship, "especially under the current difficult circumstances".

"A good China-US relationship is in the interests of not just the people of our two countries. It is one that people throughout the world want," Zhang said, adding that the US should understand the necessity and urgency to uphold the one-China principle.

On Saturday, Lai Ching-te, "deputy leader" in Taiwan, made a brief "stopover" in New York, which prompted strong opposition from the central government as well as criticism from the overseas Chinese community.

Beijing has strongly opposed Lai's "stopover" in the United States, calling him a "troublemaker through and through" and stating that the move "seriously violates the one-China principle, and gravely undermines China's sovereignty and territorial integrity".

The remarks came after Lai arrived in New York on Saturday on his way to Paraguay — one of only 13 states that retain official ties with Taiwan — to attend the inauguration of the country's new president.

The Taiwan question is at the heart of the core interests of China, the bedrock of the political foundation of China-US relations, and the first red line that must not be crossed in China-US relations, China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"So I sincerely hope all Chinese compatriots, wherever we come from, no matter which part of China we come from, we can stay united in a joint pursuit for the eventual reunification of our motherland and for the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and of course, for better and more cooperation between China and the United States," said Zhang.

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