Kung fu movie-star Jackie Chan stirred up international outrage and accusations of racism Saturday with his comment that the Chinese people can’t handle too much freedom.
According to Jackie:
“I’m not sure if it’s good to have freedom or not,” Chan said at the Boao Forum. “If you’re too free, you’re like the way Hong Kong is now. It’s very chaotic. Taiwan is also chaotic.”
Chan added, “I’m gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled. If we’re not being controlled, we’ll just do what we want.”
Lawmakers and bloggers from Taiwan and Chan’s native Hong Kong were especially incensed by Chan’s statements, made during his speech at an annual business forum that was attended by business leaders and politicians, including Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.
While the incident was reported negatively by the Hong Kong and Taiwanese press as well as many international news sites, mainland Chinese newspapers failed to mention it.
Chan has gotten into trouble for his negative views about Taiwanese politics before; in 2004, he called Taiwan’s presidential election “the biggest joke in the world.”
However, the predominant attitude by Chan’s critics was that he made his comments expressly to appeal to the business leaders and Chinese Communist Party members in his audience. The belief that Taiwan and Hong Kong have “chaotic” governments is one regularly upheld by the CCP as an argument against the regions’ independence from mainland China.
“While we should not expect him to be conversant with academic debates on Orientalism, it is clear that he is saying what needs to be said to maximize his material gain within the current political environment of the PRC,” said one blogger.
Given that Chan’s most recent movie, “Shinjuku Incident,” was banned in China for being too violent, Chan may have used his Boao speech as an opportunity to curry favor with the Chinese government.
Hong Kong and Taiwanese officials heavily condemned Chan for his speech.
“His comments are racist. People around the world are running their own countries. Why can’t Chinese do the same?” said Hong Kong lawmaker Albert Ho to the AP.
Bloggers tended to be just as indignant by the remarks, alternately calling Chan “racist,” “fascist,” or “evil.”
One provocative blog illustrated Chan’s comments with graphic images of Chinese torture victims as an example of the kind of “control” they thought Chan supported.
However, comments made on some of the most vehement blog posts indicated that some Chinese netizens agree with Chan’s sentiments, or at least his right to express them.
In response to a China Law Blog post entitled “Jackie Chan is a Know-Nothing Self-Loathing Racist,” many commenters argued that Chan’s opinion is not uncommon in China, especially among the wealthy elite, and that they weren’t surprised by his words.
But even if Chan thinks he needs to win over the Chinese government to screen his movies, it’s the Chinese people who will be watching them and we don’t think this latest of political misstatements can be good for Jackie Chan’s reputation.
Previously on Shanghaiist:
Jackie Chan’s next movie: The Hypocrite
Jackie Chan: Take our women…please!