LeBron James will be taking his talents to the Far East in August in what Nike was calling a tour of China. Problem is his schedule starts in Taiwan, and that government really, really doesn't like even the slightest implication that it's actually part of China. So now officials are threatening to deny James entry into the country.
Taiwan, a large island off of mainland China, has not been under China's rule since 1911. Today they're ruled by the autonomous Republic of China, an actual democracy. Meanwhile, the government of mainland China, the People's Republic of China, a one-party communist regime, considers Taiwan part of China and has its eyes on one day unifying the two governments.
Taiwan, suffice it to say, is supersensitive about any references that it is indeed part of mainland China. So the Taiwanese didn't appreciate it when Nike issued a press release referring to LeBron's planned visit to Taipei as part of Nike Basketball's "China Tour 2011."
LeBron was then scheduled to travel to Chengdu, Xian, and Shanghai in mainland China during the following week.
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"We absolutely cannot tolerate anything that belittles our nation," said Steven Chen, deputy minister of the cabinet-level Sports Affairs Council, according to Focus Taiwan.
Chen is mulling over possible actions if Nike does not apologize for the slipup, and would even consider barring James from entering the country.
It appears all press releases referring to James's visit to Taiwan as part of a China tour have been removed from the web.