Local authorities in Central China's Henan Province said that a hotel has removed a flag that enraged the nation due to its resemblance to the Japanese military flag. The hotel explained that they had hung up the flag to scare off evil spirits after an employee's death.
The government of Anyang, Henan said Friday that their investigations showed the flag used by Wanhui Hotel was not the military flag of Japan, according to local newspaper Dahe Daily.
The announcement came after Net users put posts online Friday saying that the hotel had hung up a flag similar to the one used by Japan's military forces. The posts immediately evoked a widespread outcry from the public who still find it difficult to part with their bitter memories of Japanese troops killing and looting across China during World War II.
Jia Jiansheng, general manager of the hotel, told the Global Times Saturday that he received numerous phone calls cursing him as a traitor, which has greatly affected the hotel's business.
More posts condemning the move were put on the Internet following the reports.
Jia denied the flag is Japan's military flag and explained that hanging it up was aimed at keeping bad luck away.
The four-star hotel opened on August 27, but one day later, Liu Haiyang, 38, one of the hotel's shareholders, died of a sudden myocardial infarction. All the hotel staff were deeply upset by the incident, and some said that the hotel's feng shui was not good and may bring misfortune to the business.
The hotel then invited a feng shui master who said the hotel needed to add more "yang," or positive power. Following the master's suggestion, the hotel made a flag with a sun and red and yellow stripes. Jia said it is different from the Japanese military flag, which features red and white stripes.
"In Chinese tradition, yellow and red represent good luck and can help drive misfortune away. We never thought the flag was similar to the Japanese flag until one day a client reminded us," Jia said.
The flag was put up on September 20 and taken down four days later. "We are sorry that our action has made the public angry," he said.
Wu Hongwei, a law professor with Renmin University of China, told the Global Times Saturday that the hotel's act was "silly and deserves criticism."
"Any flag hung up by an organization can be regarded as an advertisement, so the organization should make sure the flag they use is in line with the law, reality and social psychology," Wu said, noting that he suspects the hotel did it for the purpose of hyping itself up.
In December 2001, a shop in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province used a similar flag to attract consumers. Later, the shop was suspended for investigation.
The same year, famous actress Zhao Wei made a public apology for wearing a skirt that resembled the Japanese flag for a fashion shoot.