A US basketball player is being investigated by the Chinese authorities for scrawling his signature on the Great Wall of China, in an incident which sparked an angry backlash online.
Bobby Brown, who plays in the NBA with the Houston Rockets, was visiting the historic landmark with teammates during a visit for NBA's Global Games against the New Orleans Pelicans.
The player has only recently returned to the top of the US game after five seasons abroad and, given three of those were in China, it might have been assumed he was more culturally sensitive than most.
But Brown said he wrote his name on the wall in chalk after seeing others had done the same - and his real downfall may be the fact that he has a relatively active and well-followed account on Weibo, the Chinese social media platform.
Posting an image of his graffitied signature and shirt number on the site, he wrote: “Had a blast at the Great Wall of China today.”
It soon went viral, with Chinese followers expressing their outrage. One said: “This is a world heritage site, not your toilet.”
Another wrote: “If you truly love this country, you should take care of it.”
Brown deleted that post and followed it up with an apology on the site, saying “I respect the Chinese culture I made an honest mistake…hope you forgive me.” That post has also since been deleted, and his most recent posts on the site now are from Shanghai in early October.
A number of local officials have spoken of the need to protest the Wall in the wake of the incident, and speaking to the Global Times, an official from the Beijing Municipal Administration of Tourism said Brown’s actions were under investigation.
“Punishment, such as a fine or warning, will be given to unruly tourists according to their behaviour,” the official said.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Brown explained his actions in an interview after one of the Global Games.
He said: “We were out enjoying the Great Wall. I had never been, it was my first time. I wrote my name on the wall in chalk. I saw different writings — I didn't mean any harm by it. I made a mistake. I could have just put my hand over it and erased it. It will never happen again.
“I've been playing in China for three years now and I have the utmost respect for the Chinese culture, and the way of living here. I pretty much adapted, coming from the states, here for three years. My teammates, the fans in Shenzhen and the fans all over were great to me, and I just want to sincerely apologise for that.”Reuse content