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China on the sidelines, badminton team’s Arunachal owners recruit Taiwan star

Taiwanese shuttler Wang Tzu Wei, the men’s world number 10, is the icon player of North Eastern Warriors.

other sports Updated: Nov 27, 2017 23:00 IST
Rahul Karmakar
Rahul Karmakar
Guwahati, Hindustan Times
Premier Badminton League,Wang Tzu Wei,Arunachal Pradesh
Taiwan's Tzu Wei Wang hits a shot against China's Chen Long during their quarterfinal men's singles match at the Hong Kong Open badminton tournament in Hong Kong on November 23, 2017.(AFP)

A new team of the Premier Badminton League (PBL) has brought together two territories – Arunachal Pradesh in India and Taiwan in South China Sea that Beijing claims as its own.

Taiwanese shuttler Wang Tzu Wei, the men’s world number 10, is the icon player of North Eastern Warriors owned by TK Engineering Consortium Private Limited, a firm based in Arunachal capital Itanagar.

The Warriors is one of two new teams for PBL’s 2018 season beginning December 23. The other is Ahmedabad Smashers.

What could be more galling for Beijing is that the Warriors’ chief executive officer is Bamang Tago, also the secretary of Arunachal Pradesh Badminton Association.

China had denied passport to Tago in November last year, preventing him – as team manager – from accompanying the Indian contingent to a major badminton event in Fuzhou.

The Chinese embassy denied Tago visa since Beijing claims Arunachal Pradesh as its own and calls it South Tibet. India trashes this claim.

Wang is one of the costliest players of the league, whose eight franchisees have been allowed to spend Rs 2.4-crore each on their teams and Rs 72-lakh maximum on a player. Besides Wang, the North Eastern Warriors has Chinese-origin Canadian Michelle Li and eight others, including six Indians.

Tago said the visa issue “still rankles” but getting Wang on board “just happened” for his team.

“Some people beyond our borders might read too much into our signing Wang, but we believe politics or diplomacy should not be mixed with sports,” Tago told HT.

China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province and wants it to be part of the country again, but most Taiwanese want a separate nation.

The administration of Taiwan had changed hands from the Dutch (1624-1661) to China’s Qing dynasty (1883-1895) before falling to Japan.

China has been claiming Taiwan as its territory ever since Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang government fled to the island after being ousted from the mainland by Mao Zedong’s communist forces in 1949.

Bilateral relations between India and Taiwan have improved since the 1990s despite both nations not maintaining official diplomatic relations.

First Published: Nov 27, 2017 21:45 IST