Hong Kong movie star and staunch supporter of the Chinese government Jackie Chan has expressed a desire to join China’s ruling party.
During a film screening in Beijing last week, Chan praised the Communist Party and said he was shocked by the Chinese military, according to the state-run Global Times.
“I want to become a member of the CCP,” Chan said, using the initials of the Chinese Communist Party.
His support for the party and the People’s Liberation Army was far from his opinion in the summer of 1989, when he publicly supported democratic demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, which were brutally suppressed by the Chinese military.
But in the following years, Chan gravitated to the Chinese government as mainland China’s economy grew and became a lucrative market for singers and actors in Hong Kong, as well as for foreign companies.
“I see the greatness of the Communist Party, and it will achieve what it says and promises in less than 100 years,” Chan said last week at a symposium marking the centenary of the party’s founding.
The Chinese Communist Party has 95 million members, mostly from the Chinese elite. If Chan decides to apply for membership, the party is likely to “favor his application” due to his celebrity status and long-standing relationship with officials, said John Lee, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.
The fact that he was born in Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to Chinese rule in 1997, also gives Chan an advantage, Lee told VICE World News. “The party also wants to emphasize that Hong Kong will inevitably integrate into the continent, so granting membership to a high-ranking figure such as Jackie Chan will strongly support their history,” Lee said.
Chan’s representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The movie star’s desire to join the party will not come as a surprise to people who have paid attention to his policies. In 2009, Chan said that Hong Kong was “too free” and “not sure that freedom is good.”
Last year, Chan supported Beijing’s move to introduce a national security law in Hong Kong, which has since led to the closure of the city’s largest pro-democracy newspaper, as well as the arrest and imprisonment of much of the country’s political opposition.
But even in mainland China, some people are wary of taking a movie star to a party. “There is nothing new in his patriotism and devotion to China, but his personal life and problems are a huge problem,” said a user of the social network Weibo, and this comment was spread by many others.
In 2014, Chan’s son, Jesse Chan, was arrested for drugs in Beijing and later imprisoned for six months. Although he did not participate, Jackie Chan’s reputation was tarnished.
“As for Beijing, Chan’s stellar power may not have had as much of an impact on the party’s image as it once did,” said Stanley Rosen, a professor of political science at the University of Southern California. “If he had asked to join the CCP earlier, I’m sure he would have done it, but at the moment it doesn’t matter,” he told VICE World News.
“Today, his condition in the world today is not very high, and most importantly – Jackie Chan is no longer cool – certainly not in Hong Kong. The image of the Communist Party is already strong among many among continental youth. They definitely don’t need Jackie Chan. “