A Taiwan taekwondo athlete who waved a five-star red flag while receiving a medal at an international sports event went viral recently, with many Chinese mainland netizens lauding him for his patriotism and pride in his country.
Lee Tung-hsien proudly held up the national flag when he mounted the podium to receive a bronze at the Asia-Pacific Masters Games in South Korea earlier this month. Speaking to media after the game, he said, "I am very proud to be Chinese!"
Netizens praised his courage on social media. One netizen wrote, "The stronger our country is, the stronger the sense of identity of our fellow compatriots will be." Another netizen wrote: "Support him! He is a role model for young people of Taiwan."
It was not the first time that Lee has waved the national flag during a sports event. When he competed in various international tournaments in Malaysia, Japan and on the Chinese mainland, he has also been pictured holding the flag.
"The two sides across the Taiwan Strait are one family," Lee said while explaining his actions in an interview with taihainet.com, adding that when he competes overseas he always carries a five-star red flag with him.
Born in Tainan of Taiwan in 1986, Lee grew up in the city where the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party has been in power for years. It wasn't until he went to university and studied modern Chinese history that he began to question what he was told by authorities, he told the website.
During a business trip to Tianjin on the mainland in 2012, Lee was impressed by the speed and efficiency of the mainland's development.
"I realized that in Taiwan it's all about political parties' competitions, but does not focus on the well-being of the Taiwan people," he was quoted as saying, adding, "I also believe more strongly that the mainland can make a great contribution to mankind."
In recent years, Lee has developed his career in Xiamen, Fujian province, and promoted cross-Strait sports exchanges and cooperation. He was also an active volunteer during the COVID-19 epidemic.
However, Lee's spirit of patriotism and outspoken support of the mainland has made him a target of criticism from Taiwan's pro-independence supporters.
Remaining undeterred by the criticism, he said it only lets the world see that people are not allowed to have different voices in Taiwan.
"I will continue to promote cross-Strait sports exchanges and cooperation, and be committed to promoting cross-Strait peace," he said, adding that he hopes more young people from Taiwan can visit the mainland.