The Chinese national flag was spotted over the Canada’s Vancouver City Hall during China’s National Day on Saturday, prompting a community backlash.

Kerry Jang, the Vancouver City councillor and acting Mayor who held a flag raising ceremony, was accompanied by a sizeable crowd who waved small Chinese and Canadian flags and donned red scarves. The ceremony also included a live performance of the Chinese national anthem.

vancouver chinese national day
Attendees of the flag raising ceremony at Vancouver City Hall. Photo: Natalie Hui Facebook screenshot

However, Jang’s holiday spirit was not shared by everyone in the Canadian-Chinese community.

“Like many Vancouver residents, my family and I suffered greatly under that [Chinese] national flag,” Meena Wong, former Vancouver mayoral candidate, wrote on Facebook. She added that the red scarf worn by the Vancouver politician was an icon of the Red Guards of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and amounted to an infamous symbol of oppression to her.

“I don’t want to see the Chinese national flag raised in the city of Vancouver on civic property and by a city counsellor [sic],” Wong said.

Vancouver Mayor Kerry Jang
Vancouver Mayor Kerry Jang speaking at the flag raising ceremony. Photo: Natalie Hui Facebook screenshot.

Chinese netizens have also responded on a Canadian-Chinese forum. “It is their freedom to wear red scarves,” one netizen wrote, “but raising another country’s flag on behalf of your own government is rather ludicrous.”

There was also a petition that requested an apology and the resignation of Jang, which he – in turn – denounced as racism. In response to the use of red scarfs, he said that “Red is the Chinese colour for luck and good fortune.”

According to CKNW, a Vancouver radio station, the Chinese flag was raised on the ceremonial pole of the Vancouver City Hall. The pole has previously flown the LGBT flag along with flags of several other countries.

Stanley is a Media and Communications graduate from Goldsmiths College in London. He takes particular interest in visual journalism, having produced photographic and video work on a number of social and political issues. He has also interned at the current affairs service of RTHK’s TV division.