Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Burning to Say Something

Golden Bauhinia Square lit up at night in Wan Chai
On July 22, Zhu Rongchang, a 74-year-old farmer from Jiangxi came to Hong Kong for the first time.
The first place he visited?
Golden Bauhinia Square next to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai where he lowered the Chinese flag from the flagpole and lit it with a cigarette lighter. The burning didn't ignite into a blaze as others stomped it out and Zhu was promptly arrested.
He claimed he was protesting against Communist rule in China.
On Monday Zhu became the first person to be jailed for burning the national flag in Hong Kong. He was handed a three-week sentence for desecrating the flag, a conviction that could have gotten him up to three years in the slammer.
"He was disappointed with the authoritarian rule of the Communist Part," lawyer Norman Lam told Eastern Court. He said Zhu pleaded not guilty because he had a different concept of freedom of speech and democracy than that allowed by the law.
"He is unhappy that there are no human rights," explained Lam. "He does not think the flag represents the People's Republic of China."
Zhu probably premeditated doing this before he came to Hong Kong; but did he believe he could burn the flag without any consequences? Or did he just want to make a statement?
It's interesting to see a farmer use his hard-earned money to make his first trip to Hong Kong and spend it unlike other mainlanders who immediately make a beeline for the shops.

His actions and later conviction were not covered in Chinese state media -- the thought that one of its citizens was so determined to protest against the government by burning the national flag probably did not fit its mandate of promoting model residents happy with the country becoming an economic powerhouse...

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