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02/16/2012 China (The Financial Express) – China is facing a conundrum over the “Lin-sanity” phenomenon that is sweeping the world of basketball with the sensational rise of Jeremy Lin, the New York Knicks player.
Mr Lin, 23, has gone from obscurity to the world’s most-watched basketball star in under a week. His story – an unwanted player who shines when given a chance – has the right mix of adversity and success to captivate the US, but poses a problem for the media in basketball-mad China.
In mainland China, Mr Lin’s following on Weibo, the Twitter-like microblog, has exploded to over a million fans. But official Chinese media has been notably quiet. While this is partly due to the typical slow response of the hulking state-run media, there are signs that his Taiwanese background and devout Christianity sit uncomfortably with government censors.
On Wednesday morning in Beijing, China Central Television, the sports channel of CCTV, the national broadcaster, ran a taped Champions League football match as scheduled instead of switching to a live broadcast of Mr Lin steering the Knicks to victory with a last-gasp “three-point” basket.
Chinese basketball fans have been asking why CCTV has not shown his games. Online forums are awash with speculation that the Taiwanese flags waved by some of his fans are the impediment. China considers Taiwan a breakaway province and rejects any displays of Taiwanese independence.

Mr Lin’s Christianity is perhaps more awkward for China’s atheist communist rulers. While Beijing officially sanctions some churches, it frowns on the spontaneous professions of love for God that pepper Mr Lin’s postgame comments.
Evidence of how state censors would like to downplay his religion came in a CCTV news report when he was named a National Basketball Association player of the week on Monday.
“I love the fact that he gave praise to his team and to God,” said one New Yorker interviewed in English.
But the Chinese subtitles translated his comments simply as “I love him for praising his team”, scrubbing out the religious reference.

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