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HongKong marshal Jackie Chan to boost Chinese nationalism
Updated: 2005-05-18 20:26

Hong Kong marshaled the star power of Jackie Chan to boost lukewarm Chinese nationalism in the former British colony in a TV ad campaign unveiled on Wednesday.

As officials showed off the advertisement, Hong Kong lawmakers debated a motion urging the government to require the hanging of the Chinese flag on government buildings, schools and universities.

The latest moves were likely inspired by China's concerns that Hong Kongers aren't patriotic enough. Accustomed to Western-style freedoms under British rule that only ended eight years ago, locals are wary of China's authoritarian government.

Sporting a white Mao suit, Chan declares at the beginning of the ad, ``The national anthem is one of the symbols of the country.''

The one-minute spot then cuts to a clip featuring China's first astronaut Yang Liwei. It also shows Chinese Olympic athletes, as well as the Chinese and Hong Kong flags, with the Chinese flag flying higher.

The Chinese national anthem, ``March of the Volunteers,'' plays in the background.

When the anthem ends, Chan reappears, saying, ``The national anthem is a song that represents the country. It's a manifestation of ethnic spirit ... The citizens of most countries know how to sing their national anthem.''

In other versions of the ad, other prominent local figures give details on the background of the anthem, an emotional appeal for Chinese citizens to defend their country.

Lyricist Cheng Kwok-kong says the words of the anthem ``convey the ethnic spirit of not caving to setbacks and pressing ahead bravely.''

The part of the ad that includes the national anthem has been shown daily before TV news programs as a standalone since October. Critics denounced it as brainwashing.

Daniel Heung, the chairman of the Hong Kong government's Committee on the Promotion of Civic Education, which commissioned the ads, dismissed such charges, saying the ads only aimed to build up basic knowledge of the national anthem.

But in a hint about future ads, Heung said the next step is to deepen understanding of China by showcasing its different sides.

``We know civic education takes a long time,'' Heung said at a news conference. ``This is just the start.''

He said the first ad has been effective, with ``many'' people learning the Chinese anthem as a result, especially children.

Separately, legislators considered a motion calling on the government to require government buildings, schools and universities to hang the Chinese flag on New Year's Day, National Day on Oct. 1 and the day of Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule on July 1.

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