2011/01/25

Kungfu star Jet Li confirms he is now Singaporean

SINGAPORE, January 25, 2011 (AFP) - Chinese kungfu superstar Jet Li publicly confirmed Tuesday that he had become a Singaporean citizen, saying he wanted his children to receive a bilingual education in the city-state.

Li -- whose film accolades include Hollywood blockbusters "The Expendables" and "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" -- said his decision was also influenced by the absence of paparazzi in the strict island-republic.

"My children can have good bilingual education with social stability, and my children will not be harassed by journalists and reporters," he said in Mandarin.

Li, who was in Singapore to attend a philanthropy conference, also expressed amusement at the massive public interest in his latest migration.

"This is funny because I have been holding a US passport and staying in the United States for 20 years, nobody said anything about it. Now I come to Singapore, everybody seems to be curious to know why I'm coming here," he said.

The Beijing-born Li did not say whether he had renounced his US and Chinese nationalities, but Singapore law forbids citizens from holding dual passports.

He said he decided to settle down in Singapore because of its security and education system, which places equal emphasis on the teaching of the English and Mandarin to its Chinese students.

Singapore's other attractions for celebrities and other wealthy individuals from around the world include its reputation as one of Asia's safest cities and its low tax regime.

Rumours of the film star settling down in Singapore and buying a Sg$20 million ($14 million) house in an upscale district surfaced in June 2009.

He follows in the footsteps of leading Chinese actress Gong Li, who shot to fame with her roles in "Farewell My Concubine" and later "Memoirs of a Geisha."

Gong Li, who is not related to Jet Li, became a Singapore citizen in 2008.

In December 2004, Jet Li and his family had a brush with death as they were in a Maldives hotel which was flooded during the tsunami that swept across the Indian Ocean.

Following that incident, he turned to philanthropy and started a charity called One Foundation, which aims to help victims of natural disasters.