Action star Jackie Chan, 2012 Nobel literature laureate Mo Yan , and other prominent Chinese cultural figures have been appointed to a top political advisory body by the Chinese government.
According to Chinese media, government officials have unveiled a fresh list of national-level delegates named to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, an advisory group that meets at the same time as the National People's Congress in March. Delegates typically serve a four-year term.
The appointment of the 58-year-old Chan comes after the Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon star has been making headlines for his nationalistic comments supporting China's Communist Party leadership.
Speaking about the global financial crisis to a Chinese TV station earlier this month, he described the U.S. as the world's "most corrupt country" and said China had long been bullied by international powers.
In December, he angered residents of Hong Kong when he told a mainland Chinese media outlet that the city's government should place limits on protests. His statements were in response to street demonstrations against mainland intrusion into the affairs of Hong Kong, which is a special economic region of China that maintains its own legal and economic systems.
According to Chinese figures, Chan's latest movie CZ12 (alternately known as Chinese Zodiac) was China's fifth-highest grossing movie of 2012. Expected to open in international markets in 2013, the adventure tale tracks a treasure hunter's quest to retrieve the 12 rare Chinese zodiac sculptures European soldiers looted from the old Summer Palace outside of Beijing during the Opium Wars in the mid-19th century.
Chan has said the film — in which he stars and also holds directing, writing and producing credits — will be his last major action movie. He called it the best role he's played in the past 10 years.
Along with Chan and Mo, new national committee members include award-winning director Chen Kaige, comedian Zhao Benshan, TV anchor Bai Yansong and a variety of representatives from the corporate world.
Actor-director Stephen Chow, best known for his cult hit Kung Fu Hustle, was among new names joining the state-level advisory board in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong.
The appointment of famous figures to political posts has sparked heated discussion in editorials and on Chinese social media, with commenters noting the spotty attendance records of and lack of concrete contributions by show business and athletic world delegates to the CPPCC in the past.
Delegates named to the CPPCC can be recommended for the post by various groups or be invited by the body's standing committee. Candidates who accept the role must be considered representatives of his or her industry.