|Residence||Taipei City, Taiwan|
April 16, 1963 |
Chengdu, Sichuan, China
|Prize money||US$ 208,560|
|Highest ranking||No. 48 (February 29, 1988)|
|Grand Slam Singles results|
|Australian Open||2R (1987)|
|French Open||2R (1990)|
|US Open||2R (1985, 1986)|
|Highest ranking||No. 49 (June 25, 1990)|
Hu Na (Chinese: 胡娜; pinyin: Hú Nà; born April 16, 1963) is a former professional tennis player best known for defecting from the People's Republic of China to the United States in 1982, thereby sparking a Cold War-era diplomatic incident. Diplomatic relations between the two countries had been established in 1979, and the Hu Na incident was among the first major tests of those newly established relations.
Hu Na was a young and rising tennis star from China's Sichuan province. She had a talent for sports from a very early age, and spent several hours practicing every day. Noting her talent, her father was able to enroll her in a special athletic school. She took a special interest in tennis, going on to win first at the Sichuan provincial level competition, then the national level young tennis tournament, making her China's top-ranked tennis player. At this point, she was invited to join the China national women's tennis team, based in Beijing.
Beginning of incident
In July 1982, while touring California with a Chinese government-sponsored tennis team, on her second day in America, Hu Na fled her hotel room and sought refuge in the home of friends. In April 1983, she requested political asylum, stating that she had a "well-founded" fear of persecution because of repeatedly refusing to join the Communist Party of China.
Immediate reactions of Chinese and American governments
The US government allowed her to remain in America while it considered her request. It delayed nearly eight months in making a decision. On the one hand, Hu Na had considerable sympathy from President Reagan's administration and from the American public, but on the other hand, American diplomats knew that to grant Hu Na asylum would almost certainly damage relations with China and possibly drive it closer to the Soviet Union.
The Chinese government suggested that the 19-year-old star was too young to have made such a decision independently, and pointed out that her lawyer was being paid for by donations from Taiwan. It promised not to punish her if she returned home, and implied that separating Hu from her family by keeping her in the United States would be cruel.
Granting of asylum
The US Department of State finally issued a memo supporting her asylum claim to the Department of Justice, which had the ultimate responsibility to make a decision. On April 5, 1983, the United States formally granted Hu Na political asylum.
The Chinese government was infuriated, saying that this constituted blatant American intervention in its domestic affairs. They then announced they would sever all cultural and artistic ties between the two countries. A Voice of America radio broadcasting delegation visit to China, scheduled to take place just a few days later, was cancelled. American diplomats in Beijing found themselves cut off from invitations and contacts with the Chinese government.
Hu Na's defection was a clear win for American foreign policy. While the asylum incident's aftershocks were at first severe, the incident did not impact long-term Sino-American relations. Although Hu Na herself was likely of little concern to the Chinese, the incident was an embarrassment for the Chinese government and brought to light other bilateral points of contention. One contemporary article  stated that the Chinese, through diplomatic channels, suggested that they would not have complained as much if Hu Na was granted some type of immigration status other than "political asylum".
After receiving asylum, Hu Na played professional tennis for the United States. Her best Grand Slam result was a third-round finish at the 1985 Wimbledon. She retired from professional play in 1991, however, after sustaining injuries.
Hu Na resettled in Taiwan, where she worked as a tennis commentator for ESPN and established the Hu Na Bitan Tennis Club in Taipei which later trained the Taiwanese tennis star Hsieh Su-wei. She has returned to mainland China many times to promote the sport and visit her family.
- "Hu Na (USA)". Women's Tennis Association. Retrieved 2009-03-20.
- Chang, David. "Former Chinese tennis star, defector, to return to China". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 2008-08-15.
- Harding, Harry (1992). A Fragile Relationship: The United States and China Since 1972. Brookings Institution Press. p. 128.
- Copper, John F. (1983-08-23). "The Lessons of Playing Tough with China". Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 2008-08-15.
- Isaacson, Walter (1983-04-18). "Furious Volley in No Win Match". Time. Retrieved 2008-08-15.
- Dan Levin (19 July 2013). "Taiwan’s Tennis Ace Flirts With China. How Could She? Cash.". New York Times. Retrieved 20 July 2013.