HONG KONG – With his latest film CZ12 winning a string of weekends at the Chinese box office and eventually becoming the second highest-grossing domestic production ever in the country, Jackie Chan has started 2013 with a bang. And his political fortunes have risen as well.
The 58-year-old actor is now officially a member of the Chinese political establishment as a national-level delegate of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, one of the country's top political advisory bodies.
According to various news outlets in his native Hong Kong, Chan's name was on a final approved list of new appointees to the body, which begins its new four-year term in March.
While members of the group do not wield outright power like their peers in the law-making National People’s Congress, appointment to is akin to a symbolic stamp of approval from the political elite in Beijing.
Chan’s appointment comes as no surprise to China watchers, given the way he has grown increasingly vocal in making patriotic statements. Last month, Chan was widely criticized by the Hong Kong media when, being interviewed by a mainland Chinese publication, he called for the city’s authorities to draw legislation “to decide what one can demonstrate about, and what one cannot.” The statements were in response to street protests in Hong Kong against Mainland China's meddling in local affairs. Hong Kong is officially part of China, but maintains its own legal and economic systems, and a free press.
Earlier this month, Chan said in another interview that the United States “is the biggest corrupt country” in the world.
What concerns the Chinese public more, however, is how Chan would fulfill his responsibilities. There has been much debate about Chinese showbusiness figures being given official political roles over the past few weeks, an issue brought to the fore when Kung Fu Hustle star Stephen Chow Sing-shi - who was appointed to a provincial arm of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference - sent his secretary to pick up his accreditation, missed the first two days of meetings and only turned up for one morning session before taking leave again. Chinese social media users criticized the actor's less than diligent approach to his new role.
Chow is currently touring the country to promote the February release of his comeback film JTTW. The actor's publicists said in a statement that he had explained his absence from meetings to the political body's leadership in advance.