Thursday, June 29, 2017

U.S. NBA Sports Diplomacy in Taiwan

By Asia Pop Culture

Six members of the Chicago Bulls' Luvabulls cheerleading squad are visiting Taipei right now. They were invited by the organizer of the 2017 Cathay NBA Youth Madness basketball tournament to perform at the opening of the event’s final. The dancers met with Taiwanese press on Thursday morning and took questions. They will perform at the final of the 2017 Cathay NBA Youth Madness basketball tournament at the Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Xinyi Plaza (信義香堤大道廣場) on July 1 and July 2.

This is part of the effort by The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) to promote 'sports diplomacy'.   In case you are not familiar with the name, the AIT represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of bilateral diplomatic ties.  In other words, AIT is handling almost everything an U.S. embassy normally does in Taiwan, but is not an official U.S. embassy.

China Post reports that the AIT held a celebration of the U.S. Independence Day on Thursday June 29. Sports celebrities attending the event include Malcolm Brogdon, Milwaukee Bucks guard and the winner of this year's NBA Rookie of the Year Award, world No.1 female badminton player Tai Tzu-ying (戴資穎) of Taiwan, and Taiwan's top woman golfer Teresa Lu (盧曉晴).

Highlights of the reception included the performance by the Luvabulls cheerleaders and a pop-a-shot contest between AIT Director Kin Moy and Brogdon, broadcast live on AIT's Facebook page. It was AIT's first Facebook live broadcast of its Independence Day celebration, and President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) left a comment, wishing AIT friends "Happy Independence Day."

Interestingly enough, even though Taiwan President Tsai has an active Twitter account, we could not find AIT on Twitter.  I guess it is because Twitter is not as popular as Facebook in Taiwan.

Everyone knows that you can't claim you've been to Taiwan without trying the island's world-famous night markets.  No exception, the Luvabulls cheerleaders visited a night market in Taipei (see the Instagram post below) and tried a bunch of local snacks such as pearl milk tea and mango ice.  The girls did mention they noticed a strong smell when strolling around the night market, but they didn’t know where the smell came from until they saw an auntie throwing tofu into a pot and realized it was the stinky tofu.  Too bad they passed on the opportunity to try stinky tofu, they have no idea what they are missing.....

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