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Jackie Chan attends communist conclave

  

AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

BEIJING: Film star Jackie Chan joined other celebrities today at a meeting of China’s highest-profile advisory body, a move seen by analysts as an attempt by the ruling Communist Party to cultivate “soft power”.

Nobel literature prizewinner Mo Yan and basketball star Yao Ming also attended the annual meeting of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), organised by the party. The Hong Kong actor’s participation in the meeting, as one of 2,000 delegates making suggestions to China’s government, has been strongly criticised by some in his native city.

The martial arts star provoked a furious fight-back last December after reportedly suggesting that protests in Hong Kong should be restricted. In 2009 he landed in hot water for telling a forum that “we Chinese need to be controlled”.

The 58-year-old, famous in the West for the “Rush Hour” series and “Police Story”, kept a low profile outside the meeting.

“I have no way of speaking now, we don’t have enough time to elaborate,” he told a scrum of reporters opposite Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

Chan said merely that he was “very happy” before boarding a bus with Mo Yan.

Xi, currently party chief, will be formally appointed president to replace Hu Jintao during a meeting of the National People’s Congress, or legislature, which starts on Tuesday. The CPPCC is purely an advisory body with little political clout, but is given a high profile as part of the ruling party’s efforts to appear consultative and democratic rather than hierarchical. Its hundreds of delegates include prominent citizens such as scientists, business owners and artists, and some non-communists.

Professor Sonny Ho, co-director at Hong Kong’s Centre for Greater China Studies, has said Chan was selected to attend the CPPCC because it was thought his stardom could help promote ties with Hong Kong. Many in the former British colony are wary of Beijing’s perceived interference in its domestic affairs.

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