Argentine footballer Lionel Messi was detained by Chinese officials in Beijing after arriving in the People’s Republic of China without a valid visa in his passport. His excuses were two-fold: he grabbed the wrong passport and wrly smirked, “Is Taiwan not China?”
Lionel Messi Stopped By Border Officials In China After Traveling With Wrong Passport
Messi and his entourage flew to China via private jet ahead of of football match at Workers’ Stadium in Beijing on Thursday between Australia and Argentina. However, upon arrival Messi presented his Spanish passport…which was not the passport used to obtain his visa to China. Instead, his Argentine visa was used.
Although 35-year-old Messi is one of the world’s wealthiest and most famous athletes, his acclaim was not enough to bypass the Great (border) Wall of China. Instead, he was detained by officials while they figured out how to handle this kerfuffle.
While being led away by border officials he was overhead asking, “Is Taiwan not China?” It was not clear if this was a wry remark or an innocent one, but it seems Messi mistakenly believed that he could obtain a visa on arrival with his Spanish passport.
Messi unintentionally trolled the CCP when stopped by border guards in Beijing. Travelling on his Spanish passport, he thought Spanish visa-free entry to Taiwan extended to China. Messi reportedly asked ”Is Taiwan not China?” when stopped by guards. LOL pic.twitter.com/0rVGHHONdB
— Drew Pavlou (@DrewPavlou) June 13, 2023
It took two hours, but Chinese officials did issue him a new visa, allowing him to leave the airport (only to be mobbed by fans to such a degree that he was essentially a prisoner in his own hotel room).
Lesson learned: travel with your correct passport.
I’m not so sure Messi meant to troll the CCP through his quip about China and Taiwan being the same place. Instead, I’m going to heap praise on China for the way it handled this incident. China deserves immense disdain for the way it has eroded free speech and other civil liberties in Hong Kong as well as it menacing tone toward the Republic of China, but in terms of handling this particular incident, I give kudos to border officials for so expeditiously arranging a solution for Messi.
(H/T: View From The Wing)