Jackie Chan faces backlash over China freedom remarks

Hong Kong, April 21 (DPA) Students and politicians in Hong Kong Tuesday hit out at comments by movie star Jackie Chan that Chinese people should be controlled and that too much freedom could harm China.

The "Rush-Hour" star sparked a growing controversy by saying at a business forum Saturday that freedoms had made Hong Kong and Taiwan "chaotic" and adding: "We Chinese need to be controlled."

The 55-year-old actor has drawn a furious backlash from university students in his home city Hong Kong who condemned the comments and demanded an apology.

"We find it most ironic that Mr Chan was speaking about creative film-making in Hong Kong, which hangs on the very spirit of the freedoms we now enjoy," the students said in a statement.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board has received 17 complaints from people asking for Chan to be dumped as the former British colony's tourism ambassador.

Leung Chun-ying, convenor of Hong Kong's executive council, told reporters Tuesday that people in Hong Kong enjoyed "more freedom than most" but insisted they did not abuse the freedoms they were given.

Internet forums set up condemning Chan's remarks attracted thousands of supporters with one forum urging him to go to North Korea if he did not enjoy excessive freedoms.

Chan, 55, made his remarks at the Boao Economic Forum on the southern Chinese island of Hainan, an event attended by senior Communist Party officials including Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.

The movie star appeared to take an increasingly pro-China line in recent years, performing in both the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics and taking a senior role in the China Film Association.

Chan claims his remarks have been taken out of context and was referring to freedom in the entertainment industry and not to freedoms in Chinese society as a whole.

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