A plan by Hong Kong film star Jackie Chan to move ancient Chinese buildings to Singapore has sparked controversy on the mainland, state media reported yesterday.
Chan plans to give a Singapore university four of 10 traditional Hui-style sandalwood buildings he bought 20 years ago, saying on his website: "I think it's such a waste if they're not displayed for people to appreciate."
He said his decision came after he and the Hong Kong government failed to find land for the homes, whereas the Singapore University of Technology and Design showed enthusiasm about making room for the buildings.
But Xinhua cited officials and social media users as arguing the structures should stay in China, and in Anhui province in particular where the architectural style originates.
"If those buildings are historical relics, they are not allowed to leave China," Xinhua quoted Zhang Hongmin, an official at the provincial body for cultural heritage, as saying. It also cited a user of microblogging site Sina Weibo, who wrote: "They are Chinese buildings; why is there no place to put them?"
A cultural heritage expert told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that the government had not adequately preserved Hui-style structures and poor oversight had allowed them to be transplanted abroad.
But the report also quoted an official in Anhui's Huangshan , known for such buildings, as promising to "provide the best place, most experienced craftsmen and funding to welcome those ancient buildings home".
In a Sina Weibo entry yesterday, Chan said he had not expected the issue to spark so much discussion.
"I really want to have a chance to explain the whole matter, because this is an interesting story," he said.
"Please rest assured that Jackie Chan will not do something against the law and will not do something that fails the people," Chan added.
In his latest film, Chinese Zodiac, Chan plays a character who steals bronze statues from France to return to China.