April 21, 2009

China doesn't need freedom, says Jackie Chan

ENTERTAINMENT/POLITICS - Jackie Chan has made some comments that freedom may not be good for China, and his spokesmen are now saying those comments were taken out of context.

The 55-year-old martial arts film star caused a huge uproar after he told a business forum for Asian entertainment on Saturday that it may not be good for authoritarian China to become a free society. He was asked to come and comment on censorship in Chinese films.

"I'm not sure if it's good to have freedom or not," Chan said, adding freedoms in his native Hong Kong and Taiwan made those societies "chaotic." (Taiwan, which split from China in 1949, is democratic and Hong Kong, a former British colony now ruled by China, enjoys free elections.)

"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," said Jackie Chan.

His main spokesman says the actor was referring to freedom in the entertainment industry and not China's authoritarian government.

However Jackie Chan discussed China as a country – not its entertainment industry specifically – immediately before making his comments about freedom, according to an AP reporter who attended Chan's panel discussion in Hainan China.

"Sure, we've got 5,000 years of history, but our new country has just been around for 60 years and the reforms for 30 years. It's hard to compare us with other countries," Chan said, referring to China's communist rule and capitalist-style reforms under the communist regime.

"But I feel that in the 10 years after Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule, I can gradually see, I'm not sure if it's good to have freedom or not," Chan continued.

A Facebook group set up by Hong Kong users calling for Chan to be exiled to North Korea had drawn more than 2,600 members by Tuesday. The group also posted form letters urging Hong Kong's Baptist University and Academy for Performing Arts to strip Chan of honorary degrees they gave the actor.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board, for which Chan serves as an ambassador, had received 17 complaints as of Monday that his comments "hurt the image of Hong Kong and aren't reflective of Hong Kong people," a publicist said. She declined to give her name because of company policy.

The University of Hong Kong's students' union said in a statement Monday Chan's comments "cast shame on the entire Hong Kong citizenry" and "may poison the younger generation."

Opposition Taiwanese politicians on Monday demanded that the city government of Taipei strip Chan of his role as ambassador of the Deaf Olympic Games to be held in the Taiwanese capital in September.

Sooo... does Jackie Chan have a point?

I think the point to be made is that China needs to evolve slowly. With over a billion people, rapid change could be dangerous. Sure China has lots of censorship, a government which bosses around the masses, and most Chinese people still believe the Tiananmen Square Massacre is a hoax...

But how is that any different from the United States, where over 60% of the population now believes September 11th was some huge conspiracy theory planned by the Bush Administration, where the government spies on its own citizens using the Patriot Act and anyone who disagrees with the accepted story is branded un-American?

Evidently Jackie Chan forgot about the Tiananmen Square Massacre (and similar incidents) and the freedom he enjoyed in Hong Kong and Taiwan which allowed him to become such a star in the first place.

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