Hong Kong security personnel blocked access to the historic Red House in Tuen Mun on Saturday as citizens attempted to mark Taiwan National Day, leading to a scuffle.

The building – also called Hung Lau – is thought to have housed China’s “founding father” Sun Yat-sen as he organised some dozen revolutionary attempts against the imperial Qing Dynasty. It was cordoned-off this year ahead of the annual flag-raising ceremony, which organisers cancelled amid concerns over violating the Beijing-enacted national security law.

Tuen Mun Red House October 10 2020

Taiwan National Day – known as Double Ten Day – commemorates the beginning of the uprising against the Qing Dynasty and the birth of the Republic of China (ROC) in 1912.

But following the Chinese Civil War in 1949, the defeated ROC government – led by the nationalist Kuomintang, founded by Sun – fled to Taiwan, where the party enforced four decades of authoritarian rule. The ROC has ruled the island since 1945 after Japan – which occupied it for 50 years – was defeated in the Second World War. The People’s Republic of China claims Taiwan to be one of its provinces and does not recognise it as an independent country.

Red House Tuen Mun
Photo: Kevin Cheng/United Social Press.

At least four police vehicles were stationed in the area and more than a dozen uniformed and plainclothes officers checked visitors’ IDs, Stand News reported. Private security guards were also present. Shortly after 10 am, some citizens said a portion of the park was on government land and tried to push past security before being removed.

Yuen Long District Councillor Johnny Mak Ip-shing and seven to eight visitors reportedly remained outside in separate groups and sang patriotic songs, including “Ode to the Republic of China” and “The Plum Blossom.”

Tuen Mun Red House October 10 2020

The ceremony usually attracts hundreds of participants.

The land on which the Red House sits was sold to a company owned by a mainland Chinese person for HK$5 million in November 2016. The Antiquities and Monuments Office declared the grade one historic building a proposed monument in March 2017, granting it protected status for one year after repeated instances of destruction.

Red House
The Red House in 2017. File photo: HKFP.

But it was not upgraded to a declared monument – the highest protection status – in December 2017, owing to a lack of concrete evidence.

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Jennifer Creery is a Hong Kong-born British journalist, interested in minority rights and urban planning. She holds a BA in English at King's College London and has studied Mandarin at National Taiwan University.