An Eyeful of Red Flags – Xinhua

Remember last year’s “Nail House” story ( pictures) ? Here is an interesting variation on the theme. In the following photo, published with a report from Xinhua dated January 5, 2008, nearly 200 Chinese flags hang from apartment buildings in a housing complex in Xi’an’s Stele Forest district that is being demolished. In December, according to the report, 2007 residents hung 300 flags in protest of the demolition. By the end of the month the demolition crew had confiscated the flags and put out their own flags as a threat to those residents who still refused to vacate their homes. The vice president of Shaanxi province’s lawyers’ association has condemned the behavior: “No matter who you are – a group of residents or a demolition crew — hanging a flag in such an instance is a sign of disrespect; such a use of the flag ought to be considered inappropriate behavior.” From Xinhua, translated by Japhet Weeks:

Walking into the Dongxin Huayuan housing complex in Xi’an’s Stele Forest district at 2.30 p.m. on January 5, a reporter stands in the hollowness of encroaching disorder on a razed piece of land, looks up in all directions and sees a spectacular sight: All of the buildings are filled with Chinese flags. Nearly 200 flags are hanging from the area’s seven low-rise apartment buildings.

In September, 2007, the housing complex was slated for demolition by Xi’an’s planning department. Demolition began at the beginning of November.

A property owner named Wang who lives in building #1 in the housing complex says that many of the area’s residents — there are over 320 families spread throughout seven ’90s-era low-rise buildings — purchased their apartment when they moved in.

Yesterday afternoon, a reporter returned to the housing complex. The flags, which had been hanging there just a couple of days before, were still out, but with no one around to look after them some were tangled up together and others drooped. Property owner Wang says when he heard that the area was going to be torn down a group of owners purchased 300 flags to distribute to residents before December 5, 2007; they originally thought that hanging the flags would express their opposition to the demolition. However, by the end of the month, the flags had been confiscated. Now the almost 200 flags hanging serve as a threat to those residents who have yet to vacate their apartments.

The propaganda department for the Stele Forest district announced that it would handle the issue; director Ping Zhaolong said in a recent interview, “When the demolition crew discovered the flags, they were unsuccessful in persuading residents to take them down, so the demolition crew hung their own flags.” Ping said that the choice to hang flags on the part of the demolition crew was a matter of personal initiative and was not authorized by demolition headquarters. But after discovering what had happened, headquarters didn’t seem to care, nor for that matter have they questioned whether or not such behavior is appropriate. As to whether the flags were purchased by the demolition crew or merely confiscated from the residents, Ping was unclear. “I will get in touch with the demolition headquarters and tell them not put out flags again,” he said.

Hearing the news that 200 flags had been hung, Han Yongjia, vice president of the province’s lawyers’ association and head of the Shaanxi Yongjia law offices, said “It’s unbelievable.” Lawyer Han says such an action displays a lack of respect for the nation’s flag. He says that according to the rules and regulations governing the use of flags, a flag should be used as an emblem of the nation; it should be used solemnly and earnestly; hanging a flag is something that should never be done casually, it should be done with the deepest respect. “No matter who you are – a group of residents or a demolition crew — hanging a flag in such an instance is a sign of disrespect; such a use of the flag ought to be considered inappropriate behavior.” [Full Text in Chinese]

January 13, 2008 1:52 PM
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Categories: Law, Society