Jail for Chinese villagers who ripped national flag to pieces

Court hears flag is ‘divine and brooks no violation’, before sentencing four men to prison

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 October, 2018, 7:35pm
UPDATED : Friday, 12 October, 2018, 10:11pm

Four villagers in southern China who ripped up the country’s flag in anger have been imprisoned.

The men, all residents of Yudong village in the mountainous Guizhou province, were convicted of desecrating the national emblem, prosecutors in Longli county said on Thursday.

The Longli court heard the men had vented their anger on a flag hanging above the village government building following a dispute with officials in February.

They climbed atop the building, pulled down the flag, ripped it into pieces and threw the pieces on the ground, according to the prosecutors’ report.

Three of the men, one surnamed Yang and two surnamed Wu, were sentenced to nine months. The fourth, identified only as Tang, was jailed for eight months because he surrendered to police and pleaded guilty soon after the incident.

“The national flag is the symbol and emblem of the People’s Republic of China. It is divine and brooks no violation,” the prosecutor said. “We have zero tolerance for behaviours that destroy or insult our national flag, anthem and emblem.”

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The maximum penalty for desecrating or insulting the national flag is three years’ imprisonment.

There has been a hardened stance recently in China over insults to national symbols. Earlier this week, a woman with 20 million followers was banned from live-streaming platform Huya for “insulting” the national anthem by smirking while singing.

In July, another popular live streamer, Chen Yifa, was banned from the business after she was accused of making jokes about the Nanking massacre – when up to 300,000 Chinese were killed at the place now called Nanjing, following the Japanese invasion in the 1930s.