Jackie Chan believes that the Chinese people need to be controlled! He's beffudled about democracy. He doesn't know about freedom.
Speaking at the Boao Forum in southern China, Chan said this: "I'm not sure if it is good to have freedom or not. I'm really confused now. If you are too free, you are like the way Hong Kong is now. It's very chaotic. Taiwan is also chaotic."
And this: "I'm gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled. If we are not being controlled, we'll just do what we want."
The Chinese audience loved it.
Now. there are a lot of reactions you could have to this. There's the "Jackie Chan is self-hating Chinese" reaction. This erudite post sums that up. There's the cynical take. Chan's latest movie, Shinjuku, is not being distributed in China because it's too violent so maybe he's kowtowing to China's censors. (His next project is a comedy, directed by a mainlander.)
My reaction, however, is this: Chan is just saying what a lot of other rich Chinese feel. In the 20 years since Tiananmen, Chinese society has changed enormously. One of the most astounding ways has been in the return of a class society and in the disdain with which China's rich view China's poor. When Chan was saying Chinese need to be "controlled," to be sure, he was speaking about the poor. He didn't have to say it, But that's what the audience at Boao heard and that's why they cheered him on. Anyone who has conversations of depth with members of China's elite has heard this argument before. "The quality of the average Chinese is too low," the line goes. (Zhongguoren de suzhi tai di le.) "So of course we can't have full freedom."
Of course, the elite have become increasingly free. But they also increasingly rely on the instruments of state to maintain those freedoms and to maintain their advantages over China's hoi polloi. Chan is happy, no doubt, that Communism is dead, but he likes the fact that the Communist Party is safeguarding the interests of the well-heeled.