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Five arrested in Hong Kong for taking down Chinese national flag from shopping centre site and throwing it into sea during protest

South China Morning Post logo South China Morning Post 15/8/2019 Danny Mok

Five people in Hong Kong have been arrested for removing the national flag from a flagpole in Tsim Sha Tsui and throwing it into the sea earlier this month.

Officers from the police’s organised crime and triad bureau detained four men and a woman, aged 20 to 22, in Mong Kok, Ma On Shan, Sham Shui Po, Ngau Tau Kok and Wong Tai Sin on Wednesday and Thursday.

Police seized computers, mobile phones and clothes from their homes.

They were detained for conspiracy to desecrate the national flag.

a person standing in front of a building: Protesters remove the national flag from a flagpole in Tsim Sha Tsui. Photo: Sam Tsang © Sam Tsang Protesters remove the national flag from a flagpole in Tsim Sha Tsui. Photo: Sam Tsang

The flag, which was flying on one of five flagpoles outside the Harbour City shopping centre, was taken down by several black-clad protesters and thrown into Victoria Harbour on August 3, after tens of thousands of people defied a police ban and marched to the area following an anti-government rally in Tai Kok Tsui.

The flag incident drew sharp rebukes from the city’s leader, mainland authorities and state media.

After the act, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office under the State Council, China’s cabinet, and the central government’s liaison office strongly condemned the protesters involved.

CY Leung wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: CY Leung offered a reward for information on those involved. Photo: Winson Wong © Winson Wong CY Leung offered a reward for information on those involved. Photo: Winson Wong

Former chief executive Leung Chun-ying, a vice-chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a top advisory body, said on Facebook he would offer HK$1 million (US$127,600) to anyone who could provide information about the act, so the person responsible could be brought to justice.

The editor of the nationalistic state-run tabloid Global Times also lashed out at Harbour City for “kowtowing” to protesters and not doing enough to protect the national flag.

Under Hong Kong law, a person who publicly and wilfully desecrates the national flag can be fined up to HK$50,000 or jailed for three years.

This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia. For more SCMP stories, please download our mobile app, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

Copyright (c) 2019. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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