Martial arts star Jackie Chan Photo: Getty Images
Jackie Chan, the martial arts star, has placed his Kung Fu-kicking foot in his mouth by reportedly suggesting Chinese authorities should crackdown on Hong Kong’s vibrant protest movement.
By Tom Phillips, Shanghai
The actor’s comments, made during an interview with a Chinese newspaper, provoked a fierce reaction from critics who described him as a stooge for the Chinese government.
“Hong Kong has become a city of protest,” Chan, the star of more than 100 films, reportedly told China’s Southern People Weekly newspaper.
“People scold China’s leaders, or anything else they like, and protest against everything.
“The authorities should stipulate what issues people can protest over and on what issues it is not allowed,” he added.
Hong Kong’s residents, many of whom are fiercely proud of their ability to speak and protest freely, were quick to respond.
“Chan doesn’t bother to understand why some Hong Kong people choose to take to the streets. He just tends to think that whatever the government does is correct,” Leung Man-tao, a Hong Kong-based writer, told Hong Kong’s leading newspaper, the South China Morning Post.
The newspaper also published photographs showing Mr Chan himself protesting on three separate occasions. “The Rush Hour star has obviously forgotten his own penchant for protesting,” it noted.
Online opinion also rounded on the Hong Kong-born film star. “Protest is a basic right for Hong Kong people,” wrote Cao Junshu on the Chinese microblog Weibo. “Jackie Chan has problems with morals and in the realm of thought. He is following the government so closely and takes great delight in kissing ass. In fact, this man has a loose mouth.”
Chan, 58, has fallen foul of public opinion before. In 2009 he triggered outrage after telling a forum in China: “I don’t know whether it is better to have freedom or to have no freedom. With too much freedom, it can get very chaotic. Chinese people need to be controlled, otherwise they will do whatever they want.” A British colony until it was returned to Chinese control in 1997, Hong Kong retains considerable autonomy from the mainland under Beijing’s “One-country, two-systems” policy.
The shelves of Hong Kong’s bookshops are stocked with books and magazines that are banned in mainland China and its streets frequently host major protests which would not be permitted on the mainland.
In September, thousands of Hong Kongers took to the streets to protest against Beijing-backed plans to introduce compulsory “moral and national education” classes to local schools.
The protests underlined growing nervousness about Beijing’s perceived meddling in Hong Kong’s affairs.