June 8 – In an extremely rare show of dissent against the Chinese authorities by one of its own, the country’s greatest ever footballer has openly called for the downfall of China’s ruling Communist Party and has been all but declared a “non-person” back home for his comments.
In a YouTube video released last week, Hao Haidong, who was a major star in China during the 1990s and 2000s and is believed to now live in Spain, launched a savage attack saying “the Communist Party’s totalitarian rule in China has caused horrific atrocities against humanity,” and denounced the party as a “terrorist organisation” that has “trampled over democracy.”
Additionally, he called for genuine autonomy for Hong Kong, Tibet and the self-governing island of Taiwan and accused Beijing of launching “biological warfare” on the world with the coronavirus pandemic.
“The most fundamental reason that I spoke out today against the (Chinese Communist) system is that I think the Chinese people and China’s future should no longer be trampled upon by it,” he said.
“I think the Chinese Communist Party should be kicked out of humanity. The ghost of Communism should no longer be allowed to drift in this world. This is what I’ve concluded after 50 years of living.”
Dissidents are notoriously dealt with harshly in China, to put it mildly, and when asked if he was worried about retaliations he said he and his wife were prepared for it.
“Today, we’ve made the biggest and most correct decision in our lives,” he said.
Hao, China’s record goal scorer, released the video on the 31stanniversary of Beijing’s infamous military crackdown against the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy demonstration.
Moments after the video was posted online Hao lost his account on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, which had more than seven million followers. The account of his wife, Ye Zhaoying, a two-time badminton world champion, was also closed.
YouTube is banned in China but the country’s main sports news sites immediately removed all articles about the couple, and one popular sports newspaper issued a statement condemning his “damaging of national sovereignty” and vowing never to report on him again.
Hao was in the squad that made China’s only World Cup appearance, in 2002, but which left the tournament without scoring a goal in three games. He has spoken out previously on social issues and has criticised the Chinese football establishment but had never turned on the Communist Party.
Reacting to his blistering attack, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said: “For such absurd remarks I am not interested in commenting at all.”
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