Jackie Chan honors late parents in Australia

CANBERRA Sun Mar 9, 2008 12:52pm EDT

1 of 7. Movie star Jackie Chan reacts as he passes a hearse carrying his father Charlie's casket after a funeral service in Canberra, March 8, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Will Burgess

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CANBERRA (Reuters) - Hong Kong-born action film star Jackie Chan paid tribute to his late parents and his Australian roots on Sunday by funding a new science education centre at the country's top cancer research institution.

Chan and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd opened the Jackie Chan Science Centre, at the Australian National University, paid for by Chan's donations to cancer research in honor of his parents, who were long-time residents in Canberra.

Chan made an initial donation to cancer research in Australia in 2002 after the death of his mother, Lee Lee Chan, and was back in Canberra for Saturday's funeral for his father Charlie, who died on February 26, aged 93.

"My father passed away last week. So it is about time I did something for Canberra to remember my parents. I really thank you Australia and Canberra for taking care of my parents for 46 years," Chan told reporters.

Neither Chan nor the Australian National University would comment on how much Chan had donated to cancer research, although the university said the donations were "substantial".

Chan's parents settled in Canberra in the early 1970s, where his father took a job as the head chef at the United States Embassy before becoming a successful local restaurant owner.

Before his career in film, a young Chan lived in Canberra for a couple of years, attending college and working as builder's laborer, where he was given his now famous name Jackie as a nickname by fellow workers, who struggled with his Chinese name.

Rudd, who was elected to power in Australia last November, hosted a dinner at his official residence on Saturday for Chan and his family, as well as diplomats from China and the United States.

Rudd, who speaks fluent Mandarin, discussed ways Chan could

help Australia strengthen its ties with China, which is now Australia's biggest trading partner.

Chan, who is an ambassador for the Beijing Olympics, invited Rudd to attend the Olympics later this year, and said he would be available to help Rudd at any time, but he refused say how.

"There' some secret, I cannot say it," Chan said. "I've known Kevin for a few years. Whenever he calls, I'll be there."

(Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

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