Jackie Chan’s Comments on Hong Kong Protests Draw Anger

Film star’s support of Chinese government frustrates fans and reformers alike

Jackie Chan in 2012
Jackie Chan's comments regarding the Hong Kong protests have upset many
Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons
By Tobias Carroll / August 16, 2019 2:30 pm

For most of the summer, Hong Kong has been the site of large-scale protests, which effectively shut down the region’s airport, as large swaths of the population seek to maintain the region’s autonomy from the Chinese government. The protests have become increasingly contentious on a local and global level, and a series of public figures have weighed in on them, sometimes contentiously.

Among the figures weighing in was action star Jackie Chan, whose comments in support of the Chinese government have prompted shock and criticism from fans of his work around the globe.

The 65-year-old martial arts legend told China’s state broadcaster CCTV on Wednesday the ongoing unrest was “heartbreaking and worrying for many” and said that he supported a social media campaign to protect the national flag from being “desecrated” by protesters.

Given his roots in Hong Kong — Chan was born in Victoria Peak — his comments in support of the Chinese government have particularly stung for many. 

As this SBS News article notes, Chan has made a number of contentious political statements over the last decade or so. His in politics has gone beyond public statements as well: in 2013, he was named to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. As The Hollywood Reporter described it: “While members of the group do not wield outright power like their peers in the law-making National People’s Congress, appointment is akin to a symbolic stamp of approval from the political elite in Beijing.”

In 2018, Chan also made waves for his support of a proposal to restrict political speech. While he’s not the first celebrity with an anarchic cinematic persona and a more conservative political one, his everyman persona in many of his best-loved films makes these comments sting for many. 

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