American basketball player Kyle Anderson, who plays in the NBA, has been naturalized Chinese, Chinese sports authorities announced on Monday, which now allows the player to represent China at the international level. The Asian giant has granted Chinese nationality to several foreign athletes in recent years, in order to improve the performance of its national teams, particularly in football.
Currently a Minnesota Timberwolves player, 29-year-old Kyle Anderson was born in New York but has a Chinese great-grandfather. He had announced this year his intention to apply for Chinese nationality. "Thanks to the action and support of all parties, Li Kaier obtained Chinese citizenship this morning," said the Chinese Basketball Federation (CBA), the body responsible for the sport in China, using the Chinese name Kyle Anderson. "We thank everyone for their support and help, Li Kaier's family for their support, as well as the fans and the media for their constant attention to the men's national basketball team," she said on the Weibo social network.
The message is accompanied by a photo of a Kyle Anderson posing with a smile alongside his mother and the president of the CBA, Yao Ming, the former Chinese star of the Houston Rockets.
The statement does not specify whether the Minnesota Timberwolves player has given up his American passport. China does not theoretically recognize dual nationality. The Chinese men's basketball team is currently 27th in the world rankings of FIBA, the international federation. Obtaining Chinese nationality is difficult. But China has naturalized a few foreign athletes in recent years, most of them having Chinese ancestors or having lived in the country for a long time.
Among them is the young freestyle skier Eileen Gu, born in the United States, whose mother is Chinese, and who will have been one of the stars of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Briton Nico Yennaris, a former Arsenal midfielder and also of Chinese descent, is part of the national football team after also being naturalised.