Hong Kong movie star Stephen Chow is better known for his action comedies like "Kung Fu Hustle". Now, he's also a member of one of China's top political advisory bodies.
On January 14th, Guangdong's provincial Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) released the names of its new members. Stephen Chow's is amongst them. He has also joined the unofficial group of "celebrity members of the Guangdong CPPCC". The group includes other Hong Kong celebrities.
The mix of star power and politics is generating discussion. Many have reacted with disbelief or suspicion about the propaganda motives behind the move.
[Lan Shu, Political Commentator] (male, Chinese)
"The fifth generation of Communist Party leaders are working on getting Hong Kong and Macao in line with the party. And some well-known individuals in Hong Kong or overseas may have some deluded optimism that the Communist Party could carry out reform."
Guangdong province borders Hong Kong. The city has seen rising anger against what many see as an attempt by leaders in Beijing to influence how Hong Kong is ruled.
According to the Guangdong News Express Daily, a provincial CPPCC staff member said Chow's membership could be the work of the United Work Front. That's the Communist Party organ tasked with soliciting support from with non-Party groups.
Another staff member commented Chow's inclusion will help Guangdong CPPCC get more media exposure.
[Zhu Xinxin, Former Editor of Hebei People's Radio] (male, Chinese)
"Some provincial CPPCC members are publicized to make the province look good. There should be a basic requirement for someone to be included, not just their status as a celebrity or a star. Do they have the ability or desire to enter politics?"
Stephen Chow joining the CPPCC has also caught interest because many of his roles directly or indirectly ridicule the Communist Party. For example, in the 1991 movie "Tricky Brains" Chow's character ironically praises the Tiananmen Square Massacre after eating a bun that makes you lie.
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