Chinese Super League 2016

Hong Kong footballer Jean Kilama accidentally delights independence fans on social media after flying the city’s Bauhinia flag in China

The Cameroon-born international player’s photo goes viral as he celebrates promotion with Tianjin Quanjuan by flying the flag

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 October, 2016, 2:19pm
UPDATED : Monday, 24 October, 2016, 10:06pm

Hong Kong international footballer Jean-Jacques Kilama proved a hit with Hong Kong independence supporters after posting a photo of himself celebrating promotion to the Chinese Super League by flying the Bauhinia flag.

Kilama, who won China’s League One title with big-spending Tianjin Quanjian at the weekend, evaded the Great Firewall to post a photo on his Facebook page of him displaying the flag, with the caption “For my country”.

The pic has attracted over 1,000 ‘likes’, rather more than the Cameroon-born player’s average of 40 or 50 on his posts, apparently almost exclusively from Hongkongers.

And although it’s almost certain he did not intend to make a political statement, that’s how it was viewed by many fans.

Hong Kong internationals Festus Baise and Jean Kilama help fire Tianjin and Guizhou into big-money Chinese Super League

“I am worried about can you come back safely,” joked one commenter, while the post also attracted many comments supporting Hong Kong independence, saying “Hong Kong is not China”, etc.

One commenter read political significance into the flag’s position.

“He flipped the flag [upside down], which symbolises the fall of China’s sovereignty in Hong Kong,” wrote Marvin Lo.

Kilama apologised, to which Lo replied: “It’s OK, I hope that [the fall of sovereignty] would happen soon."

Kilama has played seven times for Hong Kong after getting his HK passport in 2015.

He featured in Hong Kong’s two 0-0 draws against China in World Cup qualifying, which stoked the flames of local anti-China sentiment – and helped win several of the team’s players big-money moves to mainland teams.