By offering this post to Mr. Chan, the Chinese government probably wants to stress the unity of China and Hong Kong, where the actor was born. Within the last few years, China’s leaders are trying to depict themselves as adherents of the so-called “policy of soft power” – that is, the policy of persuading rather than forcing.
The political body of which Mr. Chan has become a member is called “People's Political Consultative Conference”. This is the main advisory body in the Chinese political system. Its members are mainly well-known businesspeople, representatives of national minorities and important political figures.
This year, besides Jackie Chan, such well-known people as basketball player Yao Ming and writer Mo Yan, who is a Nobel Prize winner, became members of the Consultative Conference. At the opening of the conference’s new session, Mr. Yao and Mr. Mo were presented to the public together with Mr. Chan. However, the public’s attention was drawn mainly to the movie star, who was wearing a white field jacket.
The head of the Beijing department of the Russian news agency “RIA Novosti” Alexey Efimov says:
“It became clear from Jackie Chan’s first speech in the Consultative Conference what role he will play there. His speech was devoted mainly to issues of discipline. Thus, he said: “In China, laws are quite often disobeyed. Take, for example, the ban on smoking. Recently, I was in the Chinese city of Zhuhai with a group of film directors. Then, our group flew to Singapore. In Singapore, none of them dared to smoke, because in that country, they would have been punished for this very strictly. But when we were in Zhuhai, the same people did not hesitate to smoke despite the fact that in China, smoking is also banned. I believe that China’s authorities should try harder to make people observe all the laws.”
At present, China’s authorities are trying to use every opportunity for creating a more positive image of their country in the world, and they do not stop at allocating large sums of money on this. They are perfecting the tourist infrastructure of the Chinese cities. They film TV series that, of course, do not glorify China directly but create an attractive image of it. Making Jacky Chan an influential political figure may be another part of this campaign, experts believe.
Deputy Director of the Russian Institute of Africa and Asia says:
“At present, China’s authorities are actively promoting the Chinese language and Chinese culture in the world. In the first decade of the 21st century, China started to create so-called “Confucius Institutes” (centers for studying the Chinese language, Chinese medicine and the like) all over the world, including the CIS countries. At present, there are more than 12 Confucius Institutes in Russia.”
“China is also spending big sums on developing information resources like satellite TV in many languages. Several years ago, China’s central TV opened a channel in the Russian language.”
However, China’s attempts to create a better image of itself in the world are not always successful. China is often criticized in the West for violations of human rights – for example, for suppressing Tibet’s efforts to gain independence or imprisonment of dissidents like artist Ai Weiwei or human rights activist Liu Xiaobo. Mr. Liu was awarded with a Nobel Prize after his arrest, but China’s authorities did not allow him to get it.
Alexey Efimov says:
“China is often criticized by the West for violations of human rights. True, not everything may be perfect with observation of human rights in China, but it should be also mentioned that China’s answers to this criticism, as a rule, are not published in the West.”
Several days before his appointment to the People's Political Consultative Conference, Jackie Chan was photographed sitting in a car with an identification number of the Chinese Defense Ministry, which looked strange to many people. Some Chinese wrote on the Web something like: “I wonder what Jackie Chan has to do with the army. Probably, he is going to teach the art of fighting to our servicemen? Or are the authorities intending to send him to fight against the Japanese to make them return the Diaoyu Islands back to China?”
However, this irony of bloggers will hardly cause any serious harm to the reputation of the action movie star. Jackie Chan is too popular and loved in China and other parts of the world for any scandal to be able to ruin his charisma.