Action star Jackie Chan’s (成龍) comment that Chinese “need to be controlled” drew sharp criticism from lawmakers in his native Hong Kong and in Taiwan.
Chan said at a business forum in Hainan on Saturday that a free society may not be beneficial for authoritarian China.
“I’m not sure if it’s good to have freedom or not,” Chan said. “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.”
Freedom in Hong Kong and Taiwan, he said, had made those societies “chaotic.”
Chan’s comments drew applause from a predominantly Chinese audience of business leaders, but did not sit well with people in Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) said Chan “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.”
DPP Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said Chan should not have made the comment because freedom and human rights are core values in a democracy and most Taiwanese appreciate these values, which are still missing or not appreciated in China.
“Chan should learn more from the real Taiwan,” he said.
Freddy Lim (林昶佐), the frontman of the heavy metal band Chthonic (閃靈樂團) and known for his pro-independence stance, told the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) that Chan did not value freedom and did not know what it is.
Killing people, like China has done in Tibet, could stop chaos, he said. But whether the public — and Chan — desire that is doubtful.
Wu Chin-fa (吳錦發), former vice chairman of the Council for Cultural Affairs, said Chan should not have made the comments because he is, after all, just an entertainer.
Pro-democracy Hong Kong Legislator Leung Kwok-hung (梁國雄) said Chan had “insulted the Chinese people. Chinese people aren’t pets,” he was quoted by The Associated Press as saying. “Chinese society needs a democratic system to protect human rights and rule of law.”
Hong Kong Legislator Albert Ho (何俊仁) called the comments “racist,” adding: “People around the world are running their own countries … Why couldn’t Chinese do the same?”
As a former British colony, Hong Kong enjoys Western-style civil liberties and some democratic elections under Chinese rule.
Half of its 60-member legislature is elected, with the other half picked by special interest groups. But Hong Kong’s leader is chosen by a panel stacked with Beijing loyalists.
While Chan’s comments were reported by Hong Kong and Taiwanese news outlets, they were ignored by Chinese media.