Burning or soiling the Special Administrative Region's flag and emblem could be an offence next year. A Preparatory Committee sub-group yesterday warned that the issue was serious as the flag and emblem would be widely used during the handover celebrations. The celebrations sub-group ended a two-day debate on the use of the flag and emblem saying the aim for guidelines to be put before the Preparatory Committee was to 'protect and respect' the national emblem. Sub-committee member Weng Xinqiao, also Xinhua (New China News Agency) Education and Technology Department head, said: 'Either soiling or burn them intentionally would not be allowed.' He refused to say whether stepping on the flag and emblem would be prohibited. Mr Weng said the sub-group had yet to set a penalty for any offence made. The guidelines - yet to be completed - would also include details on usage of the national flag and emblem of China and those of the SAR. 'The principle is that national flag would be put in the front while the regional one at the back,' he said. The sub-group also said the SAR flag and emblem should not be used for promoting products or in advertisements.