The following is a guest post by Randy – AlleyCat
“Overseas Chinese driver” in Formula One
The Chinese usually identify a person by ethnic origin instead of nationality.’Overseas Chinese’ are people of Chinese birth or descent who live outside the Chinese territories. As long as the person is of Chinese descent, that person is considered Chinese, and if that person lives outside of China, that person is “overseas Chinese”.
Ho-Pin Tung (董荷斌) was born and raised in the Netherlands, but he races with a Chinese license. His dream: to become a Formula One race driver. Few of us will ever have been any closer to achieving our dreams, when he became the first Overseas Chinese driver to be named in a Formula One team line-up. The Dutch-born 27-year-old, already the first Chinese national to drive a grand prix car, will be Renault’s official third (reserve) driver this season. When he tested for the team in December, he immediately impressed with his speed and feedback, which convinced Renault that he was ready to become part of the team.
“Since the day I started racing, Formula One has always been my objective”, said Ho-Pin Tung. “So to reach the pinnacle of motorsport and become part of such a famous team as Renault is an amazing opportunity. It’s really a dream come true for me, but it’s also the start of a new adventure. In many ways everything starts from now.’ And: ‘My objective is unchanged, I want to race and I want to win, for China, for my fans, for the team, for my partners and for myself. Formula 1 is what I really want. My new position with Renault is excellent news for China, for Chinese sport and the fast growing number of Formula 1-fans there.”
As a dutch reporter, part of me was excited, and the other half was disappointed. I couldn’t make up my mind. I’m not naive, I know how it works. To be an ‘overseas Chinese’ might be much more profitable these days, even more so if you are in competition for one of the few chairs in a Formula One racing car. Yet couldn’t he have spoken just one or two words in his native language, so that we, his Dutch fans, could also share in his glory and co-celebrate his future pole positions?
“Please Ho”, the reporter asked in Dutch. “Just a small sign? A kind gesture, for the country that provided your human rights, education and opportunities? Ho-Pin Tung? Are you there? Ho? Ho? Ho?” Reporter tried again and again, but there were too many people that wanted to speak to Ho-Pin Tung. All of them were asking the same questions, and Ho would be answering in many languages, but Dutch was not one of them. Ho would not listen, or seemed to suffer from a sudden amnesia and appeared to have completely forgotten where he was born. Some reporters went home, feeling very disregarded, very obsolete, and very Dutch.
So in spite of us feeling a bit neglected, we shall still look out for Ho-Pin Tung at the next Grand Prix, as we can’t help to regard him as one of our own. Although by now we also know: whether moving slow or at high speeds, living abroad or born ‘overseas’ -a Chinese will always be Chinese…