Perhaps the emotional climax for the Chinese audience of the Opening Ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics was the entry of the Chinese team, led by the world-famous basketball player Yao Ming carrying the Chinese flag, with a school child with his own small flag walking at Yao Ming’s side.
The Chinese state-controlled media had an article to go with a photo of this scene titled “Chinese Team Flag Bearer Yao Ming Stepping Into the Stadium With Heroic Youngster.”
The youngster is a second grader, Lin Hao, from Wenchuan County of the earthquake-devastated Sichuan Province.
What the picture published in the official Chinese media does not show is that the flag in Lin’s little hand is upside down, as seen in an uncropped picture that the state-media did not publish.
An upside-down flag is the international nautical convention for “great distress.” In this case, Lin’s flag seems to send the message, “This country is in crisis.”
Chinese bloggers are talking about this online, and many think this was not a coincidence. Right after the Sichuan earthquake on May 12, China's communist regime refused assistance from international rescue teams for the critical first 72 hours. Endemic corruption amongst officials appeared to be a contributing factor in the collapse of poorly constructed school buildings, killing thousands of children.
In their online statements, some bloggers have wondered whether perhaps some invisible behind-the-scenes hand inverted the child's flag, reminding people of the Chinese regime’s role in the Sichuan tragedy. These bloggers see the upside down flag as a distressed cry to the rest of the world, for help.