The 7-foot-6 Shanghai-born star of the Houston Rockets joined with two other Chinese celebrities last week in denouncing the expensive national delicacy that sells for as much as $100 per bowl in Hong Kong.
Yao, who once played for the Shanghai Sharks, spoke at a news conference in Beijing on behalf of the WildAid conservation group, and pledged he would never eat it again, the New York Times reported Sunday.
However, Zhu Dongqing, 46, a construction company manager, told a Times correspondent Chinese people wouldn't readily forego the soup based on an athlete's remarks.
"Chinese people, we just eat shark's fin" he said. "It's part of our culture."
Despite Yao's celebrity, Chinese media mostly ignored his statement, the report said. The official communist paper, People's Daily, did not report it, while Hong Kong's Wen Hui Bao and The Guangzhou Daily, two of the biggest newspapers in the region made only minor references to it.