Chinese women golfers told to pull out of Taiwan event – sources

[su_label type=”info”]SMA News – Agencies [/su_label][su_spacer size=”10″] Chinese players on the elite U.S. professional women’s golf tour have pulled out of this week’s tournament in Taiwan at the 11th hour, after being told by someone “high up” in China to skip the event, sources familiar with the situation told Reuters.
They said world number nine Shanshan Feng and rookie Yu Liu were told during last weekend’s event in Shanghai that they should not play in the Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship, which starts in Taipei on Thursday.
China, which views self-ruled Taiwan as a wayward province, has ramped up pressure to assert its sovereignty. Ties have deteriorated since 2016, when President Tsai Ing-wen of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party came to power.
The United States sent two warships through the Taiwan Strait on Monday in its second such operation this year, as its military steps up the frequency of transits through the busy strategic waterway, despite opposition from China.
Sometimes the ill-feeling between China and Taiwan engulfs sporting events.
In July, for example, China blamed “independence activists” for the cancellation of an Olympic event in Taiwan, shrugging off Taipei’s accusation that Beijing’s “political bullying” was behind the revocation of its right to host a youth game.
It is unclear who told Feng and Liu, the only two Chinese golfers confirmed for the event in Taiwan, not to attend, but, barring injury, it is highly unusual for players to withdraw at such a late stage.
“They said I can’t respond regarding the issue of withdrawing from the competition,” Liu told Reuters via her official account on the Twitter-like social media platform Weibo, referring to her agents.
Asked about why she had pulled out of the tournament, she declined to comment but said it was “not for personal reasons”.
One source at the tournament said officials there had no plans to fine the players for withdrawing so late in the day, “given the circumstances”.
A media officer for the LPGA at the tournament told Reuters he was aware the two players had pulled out, but did not elaborate on the reason.
Until Monday, the picture profiles of both Feng and Liu figured on the tournament’s official website and the LPGA had listed their names in the “final field”, but by Tuesday, both profiles were gone from the website.
Ruby Chen, the Shanghai-based agent for both Feng and Liu, told Reuters on Tuesday the golfers would not attend the Taiwan event, but declined to comment why they were withdrawing, while denying that any pressure had been put on them to do so.
Contacted by Reuters for comment, the General Administration of Sport of China said it had no idea about the incident and referred queries to the golf association.
The China Golf Association did not answer several telephone calls to seek comment.

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