Jackie Chan trips up over "chaotic Taiwan" remarks

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Jackie Chan, an idol throughout the Chinese-speaking world, has upset many in Taiwan over his swipe at the island’s politics, with the 2009 Summer Deaflympics breaking off contact with the Hong Kong movie star.

Hong Kong actor Jackie Chan reacts during an interview at the the world premiere of his movie Shinjuku Incident as part of the kickoff for the Hong Kong International Film Festival March 22, 2009. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

The kung fu hero said on Saturday at a forum in Communist Party-ruled China, which claims self-ruled Taiwan as its own, that Taiwan was “very chaotic” because of its freedom and suggested that ethnic Chinese people needed to be controlled.

He also angered people in his home-town of Hong Kong where students, lawmakers and web surfers expressed outrage on Wednesday at Chan’s view that too much freedom could lead to chaos like in Taiwan.

His entertainment company’s spokesman, Edward Tang, said Chan’s comments had been taken out of context and that Chan thought only that some Chinese people should be controlled. “His meaning has been twisted,” Tang told Reuters.

Chan, one of about 10 spokespeople for the Deaflympics, has been sidelined to ensure that host city Taipei avoids mixing sport with politics at the September event, said organising committee CEO Emile Sheng.

Chan, 55, last spoke for the 21st Summer Deaflympics, to be held in Taipei this year, at the one-year countdown. Chan also took part in the torch relay for the Beijing Summer Olympics last year.

“We don’t agree with his comment on democracy,” Sheng said. “The organising committee’s point of view is to let deaf athletes become the most important personalities at the event.”

Some Taiwan legislators have also suggested that people boycott Chan’s latest movie, “The Shinjuku Incident,” and urged limits on his access to the island, said senior opposition lawmaker Tsai Huang-liang.

Chan probably made his remarks to win favour with China, Tsai said. China has claimed Taiwan since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949 and vowed to bring the island under its rule, by force if necessary.

Some pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong complained about Chan in the Legislative Council on Wednesday and some citizens have asked that he be dumped as Hong Kong tourism ambassador.

Emily Lau, a pro-democracy lawmaker said Chan’s comments that Hong Kong people should be controlled was “preposterous.”

A student union at a leading local university condemned Chan in a statement for undermining Hong Kong’s freedoms and for having “humiliated all Hong Kong people by his words.”

Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to Chinese rule in 1997 as a “special administrative region” of China.

Reporting by Ralph Jennings in Taipei and James Pomfret in Hong Kong; Editing by Nick Macfie and Jeremy Laurence