Jackie Chan: Chinese need control

“I'm mot sure if it's good to have freedom or not, I'm really confused now. If there is too much freedom, like the way Hong Kong is today, it is very chaotic; Taiwan is also chaotic. I'm gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled.” – Jackie Chan, Hong Kong and Hollywood's action movie star, spoke at a panel on “Tapping into Asia's Creative Industry potential” in Hainan, a southern province in China n 18 April 2009. (more from wtop)

China Law Blog considers Jackie Chan a racist for making such comment:

The title sums up my initial reaction to the news of Jackie Chan dissing the Chinese people by essentially saying they are too messed up to ever be able to handle democracy. I was going to write a blog post criticizing Chan for his comments and noting how the same thing has been said about other countries that are now democracies (the United States, Japan,
West Germany, Italy, Spain and South Korea immediately come to mind). Then I decided I am not the right person to write such a post, so I didn't.

When compared with western media's reports, it seems that local people are less surprised by the news, as Joanna replied in the comment section of China Law Blog:

What Chan said is something I was told thousands of times since I was born, but the unusual point this time is that he is a celebrity and he is from Hongkong –the freest area in China, but also the most colonial area in Chinese history (Maybe that's why it sounds somewhat racist to western ears).

He said: “I'm gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled. If we are not being controlled, we'll just do what we want.”

Yes, people should be controlled (by what?to what extent?), or they'll just do what they want — but the government should be controlled also, or it'll just do what it wants too. How sad is that only the former half can be told, and can be said.

Btw, this part of Chan's speech wasn't reported by mainland China's media. He was again reported as a patriot, telling the young people to love China and to be proud of chinese culture, not the foreign countries’. The power just doesn't like anyone talking about anything related to politics.

In Hong Kong, many people are disapointed, Uncle Ray said that Jackie Chan is heartless to talk like that:


Today I read an article about Sichuan earthquake which stated that up till now the Chinese government had not been able to provide an official statement about the death toll number of school kids. When the parent tried to do their investigation, they were either locked up or intimidated. Intellectual, Liu Xiabo had been arrested without trial after he made an open statement on his expectation of political reform. Dissent Hu Jia was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment under the charge of inciting sedition because of two articles he wrote. Numerous human right activists and protesters were put into prison. I want to ask Jackie Chan, are they so wrong that they need to be “controlled” by the government?

Those were the days wonders what's so chaotic about Hong Kong?


He said Hong Kong is chaotic, what exactly he is referring? That Hong Kong people would voice out for democracy, freedom and rights? That Hong Kong people would demonstrate for social minorities’ rights? That LSD (political party) would curse at dog-like government bureaucrats who obey whatever the Beijing government says?


It is totally illogical to draw the relation between “freedom” and “chaos”. Nowadays in Hong Kong, probably not all of us believe in democracy, but none of us, including the pro-China left, dare to deny the value of freedom. Since colonial era, Hong Kong people have not have democracy, but we have rule of law and freedom. Although we don't have the same position about the time line of democratic development, none of us ever oppose having more freedom and rule of law.

Diumanpark, a blogger from Hong Kong, has a different interpretation of Jackie Chan's talk. If Chinese need control, who should be controlling? and who should be under control? He mocks at Jackie Chan's logic:


That's why I feel that Jackie Chan's has a deeper meaning in what he said. There are at least two implications in the phrase “Chinese need control”. Firstly, we use a system to control Chinese people, which means we need a universal suffrage to elect our government and implement the rule of law. We need freedom of speech, so that public opinion and media can monitor “Chinese people”; Secondly, maybe Jackie Chan is like many Hong Kong people, he misses colonialism and wishes that China be turned into a colony under the control of more advance countries like the U.S, U.K or Japan.


  • […] are plenty of retorts, many of them already made, to Chan’s line of thinking. Rather than add to the list, I’ll offer a story. I once […]

  • Jackie

    Jackie is quite correct. he’s not racist.

    He only talking Chinese to Chinese.

    He would not tell western countries they are screwed too.

  • This whole world is full of a bunch of people that choose to take things the wrong way. Jackie Chan is right to worry that the Chinese can’t handle Democracy. People like me in the U.S. sure do a horrible job of honoring our role as responsible for what we do as individuals and what our government does. Most people believe they should do what their told without questioning authority. They literrally don’t understand that the government gets its power from us. People don’t know where power comes from. They think it comes from gold or something silly. I can’t imagine how whipped people must be in China.

    Maybe Jackie didn’t want to see his people turn into slobs like us. Here’s what happens when people are educated to fulfill their desires. Drugs, tv/internet mind control, kill people in the military, cheat on your wife through internet porn.

    China is the future. Now that 99% of Americans are Constitutionally illiterate and would rather go along with the team than stand firmly planted in knowing and doing what is universally morally right. What does China have to fear. You can’t even rag on China for beating and killing political prisoners because of Guantanamo Bay.

    Nothing is going to change until people all over the world INDIVIDUALLY believe that its more important to do what is right rather than what we want. Its no more difficult than showing up to work on time. Cut out this evil middle man GOVERNMENT. You need government like you need gasoline. Ofcourse, we will have to live totally differently and not allow wrong to go on. If one person has AIDS- we all have AIDS is the kind of truth we must embrace. We’re going to have to drop allegiances to Country, Leaders, ill gotten gain, religions, etc. Stop looking to Big Daddies like Obama or Chan. Who cares what they think? They are the epitome of powerless. They have all that they have as long as they go along with the game plan. Obama is residing in the Jewel of the Federal Penal System- the White House. Talk to CEO’s – they can’t do good even if they wanted. They are slaves to a money cult. That dehumanizing voice that says this or that can’t be done because of THE BOTTOM LINE. As is always the fact, people will do as little as possible. Its like the law of conservation of motion in physics.

    A great cullling force ( imagine the Grim Reaper with his sickle) is coming round again. We (humanity) might not make it to the next evolutionary step ( that, unfortuanately must be considered as a possibility- nature doesn’t care one way or the other) Those that do will employ all that we have been given to understand who we are, what are the rules, and how can we be the best that we can be and live showing appreciation for this world, this horrible seeming game of the macabre. We’re being dropped like a sword in water as it is forged. Purity is saught by the universe. Elegance is efficiency is the only way. When you see a gymnast perform a great feat- that action was allowed by the rules of the universe. It says do something the easiest most efficient way. You know- Kung Fu. Surely, the intelligence that has stuctured this is the model we must seek to live in accordance with. Everything else is just the wrapper for this taco- to be discarded when we’re done with it. We are done with it now.

  • […] are plenty of retorts, many of them already made, to Chan’s line of thinking. Rather than add to the list, I’ll offer a story. I […]

  • knights

    Not just Chinese, but some crazy people in this world need to be controlled like rappist, serial killers, . . . . etc

    hint: lamas chopping people in half in the March 2008 Lhasa incident ?! Be careful when you go visit that part of China [sigh]

  • Chan

    We should learn how to be more “Self-Control” and see clearly what is good and bad for us, so as to avoid chaos and self-destruction.

  • Chan

    We should learn how to be more “self-controlled” and be able to see the Goods and Bad, so as to avoid more chaos and self-destruction

  • Feebler

    Translation of what he said, decide for yourself what he said:


  • […] Beitrag erschien zuerst auf Global Voices. Die Übersetzung erfolgte durch Ingrid Fischer-Schreiber, Teil des “Project […]

  • […] this year, Jackie Chan made another outraging comment on “Chinese need control” which was interpreted by some as being racist. So what's your reading of Jackie Chan's […]

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