BEIJING - Chinese table tennis legend Zhuang Zedong, who is battling advanced colorectal cancer, has refused public donations to help pay his medical bills.
"I thank the care and support from the authorities, as well as the concern and encouragement from table tennis fans…I will solve my financial troubles through the fruits of my own labour. And I sincerely decline the friendly donations," the 72-year-old three-time world champion wrote in a statement to the China News Service on Sunday.
Donations flocked in after reports the cancer-stricken star ran out of money and had to sell calligraphy work to pay hefty medical fees.
Many have questioned the legitimacy of a fund specially earmarked by the central government for Zhuang's treatment, which racked up to nearly 1 million yuan in the past three years.
Zhuang's condition is improving, according to the doctor. He has undergone four radio frequency ablations (RFA), where high-frequency electrical energy delivered through a needle heats and destroy the tumour.
The table tennis champion, who won a horde of events in the 1960s, is famed for his chance meeting with a US table tennis player, Glenn Cowan, during the 31st World Table Tennis Championships in 1971, later referred to as ping-pong diplomacy.
The term ping-pong diplomacy describes exchanges in the early 1970s of table tennis players between the United States and China in hope of normalizing the countries' strained relations at that time.