- Special Pages
Hong Kong: Hong Kong action star Jackie Chan this week joins China’s top political advisory body in a move analysts say highlights Beijing’s growing “soft power” efforts to project unity between itself and the former British colony.
But the 58-year-old actor faces a backlash in his hometown where the mainland is viewed with increasing suspicion.
According to professor Sonny Ho, co-director at the Centre for Greater China Studies, Chan was selected to appear at the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) because his stardom could help promote ties.
“Jackie Chan is acting under the soft power and united front of the PRC (mainland) government,” he said.
The “united front” strategy, he said, was a campaign to promote a strong and peaceful homeland, unified with Taiwan.
China’s growing clout over the past decade has seen actors from Hong Kong and Macau drafted into patriotic movies that glorify the country’s past, from the mighty Han Dynasty to the early Communist Party era, Ho added.
The appointment of the martial arts star, however, was met with derision online in Hong Kong, where Chan’s reputation has taken a nosedive in recent years over his pro-Beijing stances such as calling for limits on the right to protest.
Dissatisfaction towards Beijing has risen in recent years over a range of issues from alleged political interference to an influx of mainlanders blamed for driving up property prices.
The announcement of Chan’s appointment was greeted with online derision. “Yet another movie star turns into a CPPCC member. Since when did this negative social trend become so popular?” one user posted on the Sina Weibo microblog site.
Pro-democracy Hong Kong lawmaker Emily Lau said his appointment was more evidence that Beijing was not prepared to take the city’s concerns seriously.