Jackie Chan suggests Hong Kong curb protest rights

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By KELVIN CHAN, Associated Press

HONG KONG (AP) — Jackie Chan suggests in a recent interview that protests should be restricted in the freewheeling Chinese city of Hong Kong.

The action star lamented that Hong Kong has become a city of protest, where people "scold China, scold the leaders, scold anything, protest against anything."

"There should be regulations on what can and cannot be protested," Chan told the Southern People Weekly, which published his comments Wednesday. He didn't say what kinds of protests he thought should be restricted.

The star of movies such as "Rush Hour" and "Rumble in the Bronx" triggered a backlash three years ago with similar comments on the need to restrict freedom in his hometown.

A former British colony, Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997 and is now a semiautonomous region. Residents are fiercely proud of the Western-style civil liberties they enjoy that are not seen on the mainland, including the freedom to demonstrate.

Chan also reflected in the interview on how different Hong Kong was before 1997.

"Hong Kong in the British era was not so free. Did you hear so much gossipy news? Were there so many taking to the streets? No. Very well behaved. The British badly repressed us," he told the magazine.

"We do not like repression. We like freedom. But you cannot do whatever you want."

The city has been the scene lately of a rising number of protests by people upset with Beijing-backed leader Leung Chun-ying, a lack of full democracy and China's growing influence on the city.

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in July to protest after Leung took office.

In 2009, Chan sparked outrage among lawmakers in Hong Kong when said he said, "I'm not sure if it's good to have freedom or not." He also said he was "beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled."

When asked by reporters later Thursday about the comments, Chan said, "I respect everyone's opinion and others should respect mine."

He added that he did not want to comment about the interview anymore.

But he added, "I will comment on politics in the future if I feel like it, because that's just the way I am."

The 58-year-old actor was speaking at the Hong Kong premiere of "Chinese Zodiac," also known as "CZ12," which he has said would be his final action film.

Southern People Weekly is part of a media group controlled by southern Guangdong province's Communist Party and known for its lively reporting.

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Online:

Southern Weekly article (in Chinese): www.nfpeople.com/News-detail-item-4019.html

Follow Kelvin Chan at Twitter.com/chanman

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