Saturday, August 8, 2009

Jackie Chan Puts His Foot In It

I don't guess it's completely surprising that Jackie Chan could get himself in trouble by saying something that pissed people off, but considering the possibilities, it's kind of unexpected that he managed to do it while speaking his first language. Addressing a business group in the southern Chinese province of Hainan on Saturday, Chan said, "I'm not sure if it's good to have freedom or not. 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." In the past, Chan has criticized the mainland Chinese government for the 1989 crackdown, but in recent years he has avoided weighing in on political topics. This time, speaking before a receptive audience, he let himself stray into dangerous territory, even calling Hong Kong and Taiwan "chaotic" compared to the mainland.

Chan's comments went over well with his listeners but have provoked a fierce backlash from legislators in Hong Kong and Taiwan. One of them, Leung Kwok-hung, insisted that Chan has "insulted the Chinese people. Chinese people aren't pets. Chinese society needs a democratic system to protect human rights and rule of law." Another critic, Huang Wei-che, pointed out that the internationally beloved star "has enjoyed freedom and democracy and has reaped the economic benefits of capitalism. But he has yet to grasp the true meaning of freedom and democracy." Others called Chan's remarks racist. Ironically, Chan's comments received no coverage at all in mainland China itself. Chan is currently in talks to co-star with Will Smith's son Jaden Smith in a remake of The Karate Kid, to be shot in Beijing.

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