BOAO, China — Action star Jackie Chan said Saturday he's not sure if a free society is a good thing for China and that he's starting to think "we Chinese need to be controlled."
Chan's comments drew applause from a predominantly Chinese audience of business leaders in China's southern island province of Hainan.
The 55-year-old Hong Kong actor was participating in a panel at the annual Boao Forum when he was asked to discuss censorship and restrictions on filmmakers in China. He expanded his comments to include society.
"I'm not sure if it's good to have freedom or not," Chan said. "I'm really confused now. If you're too free, you're like the way Hong Kong is now. It's very chaotic. Taiwan is also chaotic."
Chan added: "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."
The kung fu star has not been a vocal supporter of the pro-democracy movement in his hometown of Hong Kong. Since the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997, voters have not been allowed to directly elect their leader. Several massive street protests have been held to demand full democracy, but Beijing has repeatedly said Hong Kong isn't ready for it.
The theme at Saturday's panel discussion was "Tapping into Asia's Creative Industry Potential," and Chan had several opinions about innovation in China.
He said that early in his career, he lived in the shadow of the late martial arts star Bruce Lee. He said that during his first foray into Hollywood, he struggled to establish his own identity, so he returned to Hong Kong. After spending 15 years building his reputation in Asia, Chan finally got rediscovered by Hollywood, he said.
Chan said the problem with Chinese youth is that "they like other people's things. They don't like their own things." Young people need to spend more time developing their own style, he added.
The action hero complained that Chinese goods still have too many quality problems. He became emotional when discussing contaminated milk powder that sickened tens of thousands of Chinese babies in the past year.
Speaking fast with his voice rising, Chan said, "If I need to buy a TV, I'll definitely buy a Japanese TV. A Chinese TV might explode."