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« Jackie Chan does the Orientalist thing | Main | The Resonance of a Chinese Euphemism, Jackie Chan edition »

April 21, 2009


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In short, this is not about linguistics, it's about politics.

Sam: you are a straight shooter and you hit the nail at the head here. Yes, it is all about politics. At least we can agree to disagree here. All these talks about racism, political correctness’s are just smoke and mirror, or hog washes.

What is politics? Power, the authorities to allocate resources among peoples and between them.

What is the biggest politics ? The biggest allocators of resources is the direct result of colonialism and imperialism. Namely,for 500 years, these pirates and bandits from Europe rushed out to rob, burn, and steal. Africa, North America, South America, Asia, Australia. Bandits rushed out and wealth came in.

How did they do that? Ideologies and industrialization. Ideologies to unite within and undermine without. Firepower and cheap commodities to destroy and enslave. Opium, missionaries, machines guns, gunboats and mass media.

What is disturbing this world order? China and its ongoing industrialization. If ever China produce the most steel, build the most ships, shoot the most satellites, then it doesn't matter how much orientalists you can quote.

How to deal with it? Break China apart (7 is the most desirable number) as the good old ex-president Lee Tenghui advocated. Bashing Jackie Chen and promoting Lu Xiaobo are just part of the ongoing strategy.

Why Jackie Chen is targeted? Let's see:

He showed his disdain toward Taiwan independentists (the biggest joke on the pre-election shooting) and advocate that a unified China is desirable.

(One can only have One China or one China one Taiwan. One can only love Chen Shubian or hate him. Therefore, one shouldn't be surprised that DDP is banning Jackie Chen)

Jackie should treat these bashing as a badge of honor. As to the "300 year colonialization" Liu Xiaobo, he is already in the trash bin of history, no matter how many rewards he can collect from his masters.


The claim that the PRC is under some sort of dire threat of dismemberment from the US is empirically false. It cannot happen. The US does not have this capability and has never had this capability. In 1949, the US walked away from Chiang Kai-shek and did not intervene militarily in the Chinese civil war because it did not have the capability to defeat the CCP. During the Korean War, when MacArthur threatened to take the fighting to China, he was dismissed because virtually all other (OK, may not Curtis LeMay) military planners understood that the US could not win a war against China. Yes, the US trained and launched guerrilla fighters into Tibet, but this was always a cynical manipulation of Tibetans to provide a minor harassment to PRC forces; it never posed a serious threat to China (I personally see it as immoral and stupid). And all of this was before the PRC attained nuclear weapons. China today is an economically dynamic, militarily strong, nuclear great power. Everyone knows this. While some in the US see China as a threat, no serious analyst of Sino-US relations believes that the US could or should attack China militarily.
Thus, any invocation of this kind of exaggerated "American threat" idea functions only to rationalize authoritarian power in the PRC. Just as the "China threat" rhetoric in the US rationalizes certain kinds of defense spending.
And none of that has anything to do with the politics surrounding Jackie Chan.
The politics of Chan's statement - which you are avoiding - are this: he is recognizing and reproducing the power of the CCP and willingly involving himself in a political narrative that rationalizes the hardline CCP position that rejects even the most mild political liberalization. Thus, he must bash HK and Taiwan as "chaotic" because that serves the interest of the powerholders before whom he was speaking.
I don't doubt that the ideas he expressed are articulated regularly by many different people in various walks of Chinese life. I am sure that, given the political context there, many people want to believe that HK and Taiwan are "chaotic" and that "Chinese people" might need a greater degree of political "management" than, say, the Netherlands.
But Chan is different. He is in the media spotlight and he knows it. When he says such things the words and symbols have more power than when they are uttered by people out of the media glare. He is in a position of cultural power and he uses that position to reinforce those in positions of political power.
But ideas can change, if given a chance to. In years past, many people in the US not only believed that a black man should not serve as President but that blacks generally were culturally inferior to whites. Some still believe that. But conditions of political freedom changed that. That is the opportunity Chan missed, or was simply ignorant of.
I bet that greater political freedom (again, not just like the West, but marginally more liberal than what the PRC is now) would also change political attitudes in the PRC.


"empirically false. It cannot happen"... Lack of capacity didn't prevent, wouldn't prevent trying. One reference I can provide is James Lily's "China Hands".

2. "cynical manipulation of Tibetans to provide a minor harassment to PRC forces; it never posed a serious threat to China (I personally see it as immoral and stupid)."

Kodu for that. The torch has been passed from Cia to Hollywood...

3. "The politics of Chan's statement" is that he has always been one who advocates a unified China. Being raised by in an English colony, racist Opium den (Dr. Fu Manchu, do I have to mention?) and experience for the first hand the character of the Brits, he know that China couldn't afford to be divided and conquered by the imperialists. Doesn’t West advocate freedom of speech? Can't Chen genuinely believe his belief? Why these witches hunt?

I am sure Jackie Chen isn't a deep thinker, and he definitely not a smooth talker, he doesn't have a Ivy League degree, he is a simple person and he speaks his mind.

"That is the opportunity Chan missed, or was simply ignorant of."

No, he has his own opinion and he happens to cherish different opinion from yours. It is not his fault that he don't want use his "cultural powers" to undermine Chinese government, which many Chinese believes, just like Chen, is protecting, at least trying to, the national integrity of China.


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