Recently, the movie Homeland Action, produced by Hong Kong action star Jackie Chan, began filming in Hajar al-Aswad—a town bombed by dictator Bashar Assad and taken over by Islamic State forces in the Syrian civil war.
According to Epoch Times on July 21, Syrian activists and the outside world criticized Chan’s move because it helped Syrian President Bashar al-Assad make money and helped the regime cover up their crimes. It was Bashar al-Assad who ordered the bombing of Hajar al-Aswad.
Homeland Action is a movie that focuses on the Chinese government’s 2015 evacuation of citizens from the war that broke out in Yemen. Since July 2021, the Chinese government has “touted” this movie.
In March 2015, as the fighting situation in Yemen worsened, Saudi Arabia and other countries launched military campaigns against the Muslim Houthis group. At the same time, different countries also began evacuating their citizens from Yemen, and China evacuated 629 Chinese citizens within nine days.
Jackie Chan is a devoted Communist Party of China (CCP) member. He teamed up with the United Arab Emirates (UAE)—the first Arab country this year to normalize relations with the isolated Syrian government—to produce a film praising the PLA’s illustrious Yemen campaign.
Due to the lingering consequences of the war in Yemen after seven years, the crew could not directly shoot in Yemen, considering it too dangerous. They decided to camp in the Syrian city of Hajar al-Aswad, using it as a filming location instead of Yemen.
The town of Hajar al-Aswad, about 60km from the Syrian capital Damascus, is well suited to replace Yemen as the town itself is a post-war ruin. Dictator Bashar al-Assad launched a traumatic civil war there in 2011.
The Chinese media has deliberately distorted information about the location of Jackie Chan’s new movie, not mentioning the devastation the Assad regime has caused in the region.
According to Chinese media, Hajar Aswad is the last remaining stronghold of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group in the southern suburbs of Damascus during the Syrian civil war. They claimed that the stronghold was successfully captured by Syrian government forces in May 2018, allowing Damascus and its suburbs to be “fully liberated” for the first time since 2011.
And indeed, when the Assad regime recaptured Hajar al-Aswad from IS in May 2018, they bombed the surrounding areas, destroying most of the buildings.
China is one of the few regimes that maintain good relations with the Assad regime in Syria, so Jackie Chan’s crew was permitted to film there at a very reasonable cost.
In the eyes of profit-seeking filmmakers, Hajar al-Aswad is the perfect dilapidated location for a “low-budget” war movie scene.
Director Rawad Shahin told AFP that the war-torn Syria region has now been converted into a movie set. These areas are quite attractive to filmmakers because it is costly to build studios like this.
However, the action star’s move into producing a film praising the illustrious Yemen campaign has disappointed many human rights activists and the public.
According to the New Arab, human rights activists strongly condemn the film deal, and they say this is a “shameful” attempt to appease the crimes of Assad, who is still being punished by the world for his brutality.
Syrian journalist Fared al-Mahool condemned: “The Chinese fascist regime is an ally of Syria. They are trying to whitewash their crimes with actions like this. The Chinese who come and film the film in this city should respect the Syrians who have lost their homes and have been forced into exile.”
The Epoch Times quoted Syrian activist Abdul Kafi Alhamdo as asking how Jackie Chan was able to film there with so many people alive buried underground? Under the ruins they photographed, there were a lot of dead bodies?
Many angry Syrians criticized Jackie Chan’s film for causing “great psychological damage” to residents displaced from Hajar al-Aswad. This film will turn their pain into “global ridicule.”
Sohu, on July 23, published an article titled: “Jackie Chan’s new movie has a problem with public criticism while filming in Syria.” The news agency published a photo of posts by Syrian netizens asking the action star to stop filming in their homeland immediately.
Jackie Chan’s studio did not immediately respond to media questions about how much it paid the Assad regime for the opportunity to film in Syria.
This is not the first time Homeland Action co-producer Jackie Chan has been strongly condemned. In 2021, he was harshly criticized by netizens for praising the CCP.
Jackie Chan spoke in a symposium to study the speech of General Secretary of the CCP Central Committee Xi Jinping on July 1, 2021, at the CCP’s 100th Anniversary Celebration, saying: “I admire you for being a party member, and I think the CCP is really too great. Whatever the Party says and promises, it doesn’t need a hundred years; decades later, that will surely come true. I want to be a party member!”.
On the evening of July 9, 2021, Weibo “M Video News” of the Mainland Movie Channel Rong Media Center released a “promotional” video for the CCP by Jackie Chan. Netizens could not hold back their laughter; someone mocked: “Jackie Chan said: ‘Whatever the Party says and promises, it doesn’t take a hundred years, decades later, that will surely come true.’ So the party says it won’t change (Hong Kong’s one country, two systems autonomy) for 50 years, but (after) 25 years (it) has already changed.”