distraught Houston Rockets fan has been arrested in Jilin province after posting an image of himself preparing to burn a Chinese flag.
The 25-year-old man, surnamed Wang, posted the photo onto Weibo. It shows him wearing a James Harden jersey, a black face mask, hat, and an eyepatch over his right eye while holding a smile Chinese flag in one hand and a lighter in the other.
Wang captioned the post: “I live and die with my team” and “Come and catch me.”
At 2:52 am on Monday morning, police in the city of Liaoyuan announced that he had been arrested for insulting China’s national flag. The timing of the post has led Weibo users to suggest that he was detained in the middle of the night.
The post from Liaoyuan police has accumulated nearly 200,000 likes with thousands of comments praising the speedy arrest. Wang’s own account has been wiped of all content.
This all comes, of course, after Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey tweeted out in support of the protests in Hong Kong, leading to Chinese broadcasters announcing that they would no longer be showing Rockets games, the Chinese Basketball Association suspending its cooperation with the team, and China’s biggest hub for online basketball discussion deleting its Rockets team forum.
The Houston owner has tried to distance his team from Morey’s post while the team’s star player, Harden, has gone so far as to apologize, declaring, “We love China.”
China enacted its National Flag Law back in 1990, making it a crime to willfully “burn, mutilate, scrawl on, defile, or trample upon” the flag. In case of minor offenses, offenders can be detained for up to 15 days while in more serious cases they can be imprisoned for as much as three years.