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HONG KONG – Long famous for his self-proclaimed patriotism to mainland China and loathing for burgeoning social dissent in his home city, Hong Kong action star Jackie Chan has again landed in hot water at home by calling for laws to regulate the kinds of public demonstrations that can be held in the city.
Noting that Hong Kong suffered long periods of oppression under the British colonial administration, Chan said the eventual longing for freedom “does not mean people can do whatever they want.”
“Hong Kong has become a city of protest marches — that’s what the world has been saying,” he said in an interview with the Guangzhou-based magazine Southern People Weekly. “In the past it was Korea, now it’s Hong Kong. [Demonstrators were] scolding China, scolding [the country’s] leaders, scolding everything. We should have rules dictating what [issues people] can march for, and which they can’t.”
The interview was conducted as part of Chan’s publicity campaign for his latest action-comedy Chinese Zodiac. He is not scheduled to do any press in his hometown before the film opens in Hong Kong and mainland China next week. During the conversation, Chan also repeated the controversial remarks he made at a business leaders’ forum at Boao in April 2009, when he said he’s “not sure” if personal freedom is a good thing and that the Chinese people “need to be controlled”.
“Traffic regulations need to be followed — and can we not regulate against counterfeits? I have learnt to follow laws. Whoever does that [management], even if it’s the government, I will support it,” Chan added.
Chan also talked about the honor of performing the nationalistic song, “My Country”, atop Beijing’s Great Hall of the People as a prelude to the arrival of China’s national leaders at a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic in 2009.
The 58-year-old has stirred much debate in recent years for his socially conservative moral sermons, which some at home have regarded as being made in bad faith given his track record of long collaboration with Hollywood and also his own admission, in 1999, of having fathered an illegitimate daughter with a local actress.
Local and international criticism of Chan will likely flare up again, as he also made remarks in the interview bashing Rush Hour, the Brett Ratner action-film franchise which earned him and his co-star Chris Tucker a fortune, and elevated him to global fame.
“I have reasons to do each film, I have something to say. Unlike Rush Hour – there was no reason [in making it], you just give me the money and I’m fine. I dislike Rush Hour the most, but ironically it sold really well in the U.S. and Europe,” said Chan, who made two more sequels of the film in 2002 and 2008 and is reportedly planning to make a fourth.
He also revealed he would never play a villain in foreign films — which his fellow martial arts star Jet Li did in his major international debut in Lethal Weapon 4 in 1998.
“I don’t like to be looked [down] upon by foreigners,” he said. “Once [Sylvester] Stallone asked me to be in a film and play a drug baron who turns good at the end. I didn’t go.”
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