Action star Jackie Chan incited a flurry of online backlash after declaring the United States to be the “most corrupt in the world” during an appearance on a Chinese talk show.
In a December interview that aired on Phoenix TV, Hong Kong-born Chan talked about China’s corruption and compared it with problems in the U.S.
“What I can see is our country is continuously making progress and learning,” Chan said of China, per a translation of the interview published by Ministry of Tofu. “If you talk about corruption, the entire world, America, has no corruption?”
When the show’s host asked Chan about his statement, Chan continued thus, according to a Huffington Post translation of the interview: “Where does the Great [Depression] come from? It’s precisely from the world, the United States, that it started.”
The incendiary statement has drawn much criticism on Twitter and on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter-like micro-blogging site.
Chan’s comments about what he perceives to be American “corruption” also captured the attention of U.S. pundits recently.
Max Fisher, a foreign affairs blogger for the Washington Post, labeled the comments as an example of Chan’s “anti-Americanism” and described Chan as “passionately political, a staunch defender of the Chinese Communist Party and harsh critic of anyone he sees as opposing Beijing.” Fisher continued, writing, “Like [Chan’s] criticism of Taiwanese and Hong Kong democracy, it’s as much about defending China. And that defensiveness is often more about internal Chinese doubts about their country’s progress, which has come so far but still has a ways to go.”
Chinese tabloid the Global Times, on the other hand, defended Chan’s comments.
“Everyone has the freedom to express his view. Making too big a deal out of Jackie Chan’s words may be a sign that many Americans are losing the grace to face different opinions,” writes the Global Times.
This is hardly the first time Chan has made a controversial political comment. During a 2009 panel on Chinese censorship, Chan aired his own uncertainties about freedom, saying, “I’m gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled. If we’re not being controlled, we’ll just do what we want.”
By Sara Gates