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Marbury to receive 'high honor' this month

By Sun Xiaochen | China Daily | Updated: 2015-12-16 08:04

Former NBA All-Star guard Stephon Marbury, who said he had already made the commitment to "embrace" China as his home, was thrilled to learn recently that his application for a Chinese "green card" was approved.

Marbury, who led the Beijing Ducks to three Chinese Basketball Association championship titles in four years since 2012, said on Tuesday that the Beijing Public Security Bureau had informed him that his application for a permanent residence card in China, which he filed in April, has been approved. The document makes long-term residency in China much more convenient.

"It's a high honor to be the only foreigner playing in the CBA to be granted the card. It's pretty cool to be able to do that in a country where it's not allowed to many. That's a historical moment (for my career)," Marbury said on Tuesday.

The New York native has become the first foreign athlete in Chinese sports circles to join approximately 5,000 expats who have been granted the permit since China introduced the policy in 2004.

"I've already embraced the city. It (the green card) just added more of the legality part to be able to do investment and to bring business here legitimately. I don't have to apply for a visa anymore. So I can just come and go as I please."

Marbury has embraced the full experience of living in the capital, riding the subway, learning Mandarin and visiting fans, but the permit gives an added sense of belonging to the city, which awarded him an honorary citizenship last year and erected a personal statue in 2012 for his contribution to professional sports.

A Chinese permanent residence permit has been considered "one of the most difficult to obtain in the world" due to the high requirements for desirable foreigners with large investments or who have contributed significantly to the country in specific areas.

Apart from doing away with the need to reapply each year for a new visa, the permit makes it easier for holders to accomplish various tasks such as opening a bank account for business purposes, applying for a driver's license or buying a house.

Wang Meng, a close friend of Marbury's who helped him with the procedures, said the permit will be officially handed to the 38-year-old at a Ducks' home game at the MasterCard Center this month after the team returns from a three-road-game trip.

One of his off-court initiatives to interact with fans, the House of Marbury, his personal museum sponsored by China Post, will open to the public for free on Dec 21.

"I still can't believe it's about to happen," he said.

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