Eileen Gu was attacked by netizens on the social media platform Weibo for a post in which she said goodbye to China, following her months-long stay in the country.
On April 27, Gu, who won two gold medals and one silver in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, wrote “Thank you China” on the Twitter-like platform, followed by a series of pictures from her time in the Middle Kingdom.
Gu's farewell post on Weibo. Image via Weibo@青蛙公主爱凌
Her post triggered the hashtag “Gu Ailing posts on Weibo to thank China” (#谷爱凌发博说谢谢中国#) and as of press time it has over 360 million views and over 100,000 comments.
Although many netizens thanked Gu for her outstanding Olympic debut, some also responded with frustration and fury.
Of the negative comments, some said that her message lacked emotion and signaled she was keeping a distance from Chinese people, according to Sup China.
Other keyboard warriors asked why she hadn’t called China her “motherland” like other athletes and said the country was just a travel holiday for her.
One user posted the following comment (Chinese), which received over 2,000 likes: “People like her will never identify with China… It's better to treat her as someone hired to help China win gold.”
Gu was born in San Francisco, California, but in 2019 she opted to represent China at the 2022 Winter Olympics. She qualifies to compete for the country because her mother is Chinese.
The Olympian has frequently avoided questions about her nationality, instead opting to discuss how sports can unite the world. However, she did famously say, “When I’m in China, I’m Chinese. When I’m in the US, I’m American.”
During the Games, she came under fire from both American and Chinese people questioning her allegiance to both countries. However, away from comments in the media and online, Gu was the face of many Chinese and international brands.
This wasn’t a new occurrence for the athelete. In 2021, she made RMB200 million from brands such as Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co and more.
This recent attack saw people branding her as an opportunist and saying that she was using the Chinese market to better her career and ultimately make money.
On Thursday, April 28, Weibo began censoring the comments on Gu’s post. However, the Olympian shared footage of her and her grandma on a private jet traveling back to the US, which only added fuel to the fire.
“My grandma is jogging at 900 mph,” read the video caption she posted on China’s version of TikTok, Douyin.
Gu has returned to the US to continue her studies at Stanford University, but before that, she made a splash on the red carpet at the Met Gala in New York.
At “fashions biggest night out,” the 18-year-old was seen sporting a leather mini-dress by Luis Vuitton.
Having been Weibo’s second most discussed hashtag just days before, she became the second most talked about person on Twitter for her appearance at the gala, with over 250 million views.
Gu at the Met Gala. Image via Weibo@青蛙公主爱凌
[Cover image via Weibo@青蛙公主爱凌]