The Chinese flag flying upside down outside Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong on Friday raised eyebrows across a city that often gets caught up in heated debate over the need to respect national symbols.
A source told the Post it was a mistake that was corrected by staff at the office, but not before a photo of the upside-down flag was circulated online, inviting ridicule and speculation.
Two pictures, which showed an inverted Chinese five-star red flag flying outside the liaison office in the Western District, were posted on a Facebook page at about 7am on Friday.
“Inverted national flag. What happened? A special occasion?” The internet user who posted the photo wrote in a caption.
By 2pm on Friday, the post had attracted about 300 comments and some 2,800 responses, including 1,500 “haha” and about 1,000 likes.
It was also shared by more than 500 users. One of them was democracy activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung, co-founder and leader of the Demosisto party.
“How to interpret this? Would people be considered as breaking the national flag law for posting this picture?” Wong wrote on his Facebook page.
But an insider said: “It was a mistake made by our staff, it was corrected already.”
Under the National Flag and National Emblem Ordinance, a person who publicly and wilfully desecrates the national flag can be a fined up to HK$50,000 or jailed for three years.
In 2016, pro-establishment lawmakers placed miniature Chinese and Hong Kong flags on their desk in a Legislative Council meeting, and localist lawmaker Cheng Chung-tai upended the flags during a break. Cheng was later found guilty of desecrating the flags and was fined HK$5,000 in 2017.
The Chinese flag has been raised the wrong way outside public buildings in Hong Kong in the past.
Since 2017, similar incidents have also happened at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Wan Chai, the Court of Final Appeal in Central, and New Territories North Regional Police Headquarters in Tai Po.
The handling of symbols of China, including the national flag and emblem, has been a much-debated topic in Hong Kong recently, as the government tries to push a bill through Legco to outlaw abuse of the national anthem, March of the Volunteers.
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