May 08 2009

Jackie Chan Facing Virtual World Condemnation

by at 2:28 pm under 2008-09 Fellows

Internationally acclaimed movie star Jackie Chan is being blasted all over the Chinese media for his recent comments suggesting that Chinese people need to be controlled. Chan made the unremarkable comments at the Baoa forum in mid-April; the forum, which is attended by business leaders, academics and political leaders was intended this year to discuss how countries in Asia can respond to financial crisis.

Mr. Chan has a record for being a vocal Chinese nationalist, and his comments did identify Taiwan and Hong Kong as being unruly because of their excessive freedom. Some analysts suspect that Chan was only trying to curry favor with the Chinese Communist Party elites because they had banned one of his movies due to its excess violence.

Regardless of his motives, the Chinese netizens have come out in full force. More than a few groups have been launched on facebook, denigrating Mr. Chan for more than his recent comments. One group has been established with the organizing cause of “FOR Sending Jackie Chan to North Korea!”.  Even the People’s Daily – the paper known as the CCP’s propaganda arm – has criticized Chan’s comments. Blog writers have been running the story and generating a flurry of responses for the last three weeks.

After a cursory examination of some of the leading blogs in China, it looks like after the initial storm of criticism, some readers are commenting that what Chan said might not be true, but it should open the door for discussion on freedom in China. Moreover, readers are questioning what he meant by Taiwan and Hong Kong being “chaotic”. 

I don’t think Jackie Chan is a big enough figure to generate a nationwide discourse on democracy, openness, or government control, but he certainly inspired the users of social media technology.  When looked at in conjunction with Yu Keping’s recent book, “Democracy is a Good thing” and the failed attempt at getting Chart08 off the ground, it is clear that the undercurrents for a nation-wide debate are beginning to take form.

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