A young athlete who formerly played for China’s national basketball team has drawn harsh criticism after she apparently turned her back from her home country to play for Japan.

Li Mingyang, 18, has been the subject of heavy criticism online after emerging as a player with Japanese team Chanson V-Mag, using the Japanese name, Miyuki Sugiyama.

Li left her Beijing team in 2010 to seek treatment for an injury before being discovered playing for the Japanese league, according to officials from the Chinese Basketball Association.

China’s national youth team coach, Li Xin, went as far as calling her a “scum” of Chinese basketball for her “ungrateful” and “unpatriotic” actions.

“No matter if she has a Chinese or an ugly Japanese name, she will be spurned by everybody who loves Chinese basketball for her unpatriotic behaviour,” he said.

The China Daily said the CBA would try to “reclaim Li” through discussions with Japanese basketball officials, according to AFP. In a statement on Monday, the CBA said the way the Japanese Basketball Association (JABBA) headhunted Li was inappropriate and a serious violation of international sports discipline.

Others expressed support for Li, saying athletes had the right to choose where they play and live, and instead turned their scorn towards China’s sports system, which is known for its grueling training for children.

However, analysts have said the intense national rivalry between China and Japan have also played an important role in the negative public reaction.