In Support of Flag Burning

On Friday, another assembly took place to discuss the issues Hong Kong is currently facing and to encourage more political action, including writing to local members of parliament. An incident took place that has caused much debate online. We Brits might call the fallout to this, ‘a storm in a teacup’, that it has been exaggerated out of proportion. There was no destruction of local property, there was no raging fire – all that was burned was a simple flag. You will find no local news stories supporting the narrative that anything more happened than this. There is no outcry from locals, I have looked for it and as a local, I know where to look. The idea that this has or will cause any locals to look unfavourably upon Hong Kong or on any students from China or Hong Kong is ridiculous. 

Flag burning is legal in the UK, it is protected under freedom of speech laws in the USA, and across the west is recognised as a fine gesture of political dissatisfaction. In this instance, once the truth of what happened on Friday is considered, the only people who have any reason to oppose this gesture are those who welcome what Hong Kong has become under CCP rule.
You might think and others might say that there are more civilized forms of protest, and there might be a good argument in that if civility had been shown to the Hong Kongers in exile here in the UK. There’s also the power of evocative images. We all know the power of images, we’ve felt it when viewing the iconic photograph of that man standing before a tank in Tiananmen Square for example. Flag burning works as a political gesture because it is a shocking image. It should make some people uncomfortable because political battles are uncomfortable. Do we forget that 2 million people marched in protest of the Extradition Bill? Do we think an oppressive regime that has beaten, broken and killed for its own point will listen to peaceful words and gestures? A burnt flag is nothing compared to what must be done in the fight for freedom from a brutal regime. Let a thousand flags be aflame as a cry for freedom and justice!

About Author

Bob James

From Manchester, UK. Grew up in local area before spending 8 years abroad in Mexico, Colombia and Turkey. Returned in 2018. Published short-story writer interested in learning more about Hong Kong and giving a local's perspective.