Jackie Chan speaking at Comic-Con in 2012 ( Gage Skidmore CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

On June 28, Hong Kong movie star Jackie Chan and Taiwanese singer Chang Shaohan (張韶涵, also known as Angela Chang), performed in an epic opera that celebrated the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The play, titled “The Great Journey” (伟大征程), was performed at Beijing National Stadium in front of 20,000 spectators. CCP general secretary Xi Jinping and high-ranking members of the party leadership attended the event. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and 70 other representatives from the city were also present.

The opera, modelled after the revolutionary operas of the Mao Zedong era, told the story of modern China from a CCP perspective, including the founding of the party in 1921, the war against Japan, and the civil war with the Guomindang.

Among the performers were Jackie Chan and Chang Shaohan. They sang Roar! Yellow River (怒吼吧!黄河), part of the Yellow River Cantata written by Xian Xinghai in 1939 during the Sino-Japanese War.

Born in British Hong Kong in 1954 to a family of refugees from China, Jackie Chan began his acting career in the 1960s. He is known for his acrobatic fighting style and stunts. As a global cultural icon, Chan has been honoured with stars on the Hong Kong Avenue of Stars and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Jackie Chan is also known as a staunch supporter of the CCP, which made him a controversial figure in Hong Kong. Chan’s loyalty to the regime never wavered even as the CCP dismantled Hong Kong’s freedoms and civil liberties.

Read: The Rise and Decline of Hong Kong – From the British Colonial Era to the Chinese Communist Takeover

In 1989 Chan performed at a pro-democracy concert in support of the Tiananmen protests. But after Hong Kong was handed over to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1997, he quickly changed his tune.

“I’m not sure if it’s good to have freedom or not,” Chan said at a conference in 2009. “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 … 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.”

In May 2020 Chan was among over 2,000 prominent Hong Kong artists and entertainers who expressed support for the National Security Law that the CCP imposed on Hong Kong. The Law has since been used to crack down on political activists and journalists.

Read: Apple Daily Editorial Writer Lo Fung Arrested at Hong Kong Airport on National Security Charges

Hong Kong Police Arrest Man for Hanging Pro-Democracy Banner from His Apartment Window

Chang Shaohan is a controversial figure in her native Taiwan, too. She was credited in the play as an artist from “China’s Taiwan”. The PRC claims that Taiwan is part of its territory and has vowed to use force to seize it. In March she appeared in a propaganda video promoting Taiwan’s unification with the PRC.

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