Beijing Flags at Half-Staff for Cambodian King

On October 17, flags were flown at half-staff at Tiananmen Square and Zhongnanhai in mourning for former King of Cambodia Norodom Sihanouk, who passed away in Beijing on the 15th. Ruling from his country’s independence from French Indochina in 1953 until he was deposed in 1970, Sihanouk supported the Khmer Rouge until its leaders forced him out of office. He lived in exile in North Korea and China to the early 1990s, returning to Beijing frequently from 1993 on for medical treatment. Faced with declining health, Sihanouk abdicated to his son in 2004 and spent much of the rest of his life in China.

According to the newspaper Southern Daily (@南方日报), China also lowered the flag for Stalin, Ho Chi Minh, Kim Il-Sung and several other foreign leaders who were either communist or connected to the Soviet Union.

Netizens reacted to this national period of mourning with a mixture of anger and confusion. Many had never heard of this “old friend of the Chinese people” before. Others asked why the same respects were not paid to the Chinese people who have been the victims of natural and man-made disasters in recent months.

Quoting a tongue-and-cheek song by folk singer Zhang Weiwei, online cartoonist @MurongAoao (@慕容嗷嗷) derided Beijing’s paying of respects:

MurongAoao: My love for you runs deep, yet you, in return, love those stupid c*nts. Oh! And you’re flying the flag at half-staff for those stupid c*nts too…

慕容嗷嗷:我深深的爱着你~~你却爱着那些傻逼~~~哦~~~还为傻逼降半旗~~~~

Danwei translated a searing post by @ju11hua (@菊十一画), since removed from Weibo:

ju11hua: After the [Wenzhou] train crash, the flag did not fly at half mast, after the Beijing floods, the flag did not fly at half mast, nor after the Shaanxi traffic accident, nor the great Tianjin fire,* nor the Yiliang [Yunnan] earthquake… A foreign layabout dies, and we fly the flag at half mast. This friendship leaves me speechless.

菊十一画:动车失事没降半旗,北京暴雨没降半旗,陕西车祸没降半旗,天津大火没降半旗,彝良地震没降半旗。。。一个吃闲饭的外国人死了,我们为他降半旗,这交情,真是莫言了。

* CDT added the translation of the phrase 天津大火没降半旗 (“nor the great Tianjin fire”), which is absent from the Danwei translation.

Norodom Sihanouk with Mao Zedong.

CDT Chinese collected these comments on Sihanouk’s passing and the state of affairs in China:

PlaywrightFanXin: The flag flies at half-staff in the capital, yet the citizens of the country don’t know why. This fact alone is the biggest joke in the world. You tell me: is there anything more ridiculous? Why is your whole nation in mourning? I don’t know!

编剧范昕:一个国家首都降半旗,该国百姓居然不确定是因为什么,这本身就是世界最大的滑稽。你告诉我还有什么比这个更扯的?你举国致哀是为啥?不知道!

Blacklisted: The national flag is like a totem and the flag-raising ceremony is like totem worship. Stay far away from witchcraft and take good care of yourself! You can laugh at it from afar, but don’t get mixed up with it! Raising, lowering, lowering, raising–it’s nothing but interest groups amusing themselves.

黑名单里来的人:国旗就是图腾,升旗仪式是图腾崇拜,远离巫术,珍爱自我,只看笑话不掺和,起起落落,都不过是利益集团的自娱自乐。

LawyerQianJulei: Is this a diplomatic joke? Or is it an internal affairs joke?

钱炬雷律师:外交笑话?还是内政笑话?

XingfaHanFriend: I honestly have no idea what good this Cambodian King-Father we support has ever done for China or for the world!

刑法韩友谊: 真不知中国人供养的柬国太上皇对中国或世界做了什么贡献!

GuotaijunAnchenbin: I don’t have the energy to comment on this.

国泰君安陈兵:没力气,不评论

ILikeLaifen: What people? The Celestial Empire doesn’t have a people. We only have the trouble-making masses. How stupid would it be to lower the flag for them?

偶喜欢濑粉:什么人民,天朝没有人民只有刁民,对刁民降半旗傻了么~

MournfulFallWater: This was a fundamental policy of the Qing Dynasty: “I’d rather deal with my allies than the slaves of my own house.”

萧秋水: 大清政府向来奉行"宁与友邦,不与家奴"的基本国策。

Aflie: I’d just like to meekly ask: Who?

Alfie-:弱弱地问一句’谁啊

Fahaobuyi: It’s like they’re preemptively lowering the flag for themselves…

法号布衣:他们这是提前为自己降的…

Zhoukaiming2031: So, as I was saying, you can see who this country really belongs to…

周凯明2031:所以说啊 看出来了吧 这是谁的国

lOvELion: Sigh… Just don’t raise it at all.

谢强_lOvELion熊UBaby:哎。。。。。别升起来了。

Read more comments at CDT Chinese.

Translation of all comments excluding @ju11hua’s by Little Bluegill.

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