When celebrities answer call of politics

CHINA - Middle-aged men in dark jackets pore over work reports while tea ladies top up their mugs.

Comedy star Stephen Chow sits among them, with his trademark deadpan expression and perhaps a toothpick hanging from his lips.

This is not the set of a new Chow movie, but a possible scene after the Hong Kong actor was named a delegate to Guangdong's top political advisory body, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which met last week.

Mr Chow is the latest funnyman after fellow Hong Konger Eric Tsang and Chinese cross-talk star Guo Degang to be called up for political duty.

They are in turn part of a growing list of artists and athletes to take up political posts, including actress Gong Li and retired basketball star Yao Ming.

If some considered Mr Chow the Guangdong CPPCC delegate to be a joke, others found the news that former porn actress Diana Pang Dan was similarly appointed a CPPCC delegate, albeit of remote Gansu province, even harder to swallow.

"It has become like a club for celebrities or socialites," said Renmin University political science scholar Zhang Ming.

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