Pengshik’s property has long been a magnet for Instagram users who were eager to photograph the sky on all four sides by the apartment complex’s high-rise residential towers.
Last Friday, hundreds of red flags of Chinese flags appeared on a white balcony in a complex of two 28-story buildings. Each Chinese flag was hung with two Hong Kong flags depicting the city symbol: a white bohemian flower with a star on each leaf.
According to Hong Kong’s state-run newspaper Ta Kung Pao, the pro-Beijing union flags have been divided into several housing projects. The wide sea of flags, especially in Ping Shik, soon became the talk of the town.
People traveled to Pengshik, home to about 30,000 residents living in about 4,500 state-funded apartments, to take photos of the show and to appreciate the exhibition in the square yard of industrial neighborhood residents.
“Such a culture is rarely seen in Hong Kong.” Grace Zhang, a 35-year-old resident, said she moved to the city from neighboring Guangdong province in her native China almost a decade ago.
She said her 8-year-old son was studying delivery in class and wanted to take a photo of him to mark the occasion.
Lam Yu, a 62-year-old equipment seller for mechanical engineering, visited to see the flags. He leaned his neck and moved his smartphone towards the sky to take pictures.
For him, handing over meant ending second-class citizenship in his hometown, he said, adding that it was difficult for British people to get significant positions in the civil service while in Hong Kong. Kang moved to more capable locals.
Mr Lam was initially concerned about how the Communist Party’s policies would affect the city’s prospects, Mr Lam said, adding that he was eventually devastated by China’s economic growth.
“There is no way to look at China’s progress and not feel proud,” he said. “Unless you see yourself Chinese.”
Not everyone seems to appreciate showing loyalty to Beijing. Some residents hung bed sheets that broke the pattern of flags.
Elsie Leung, a 63-year-old retired security guard, expressed regret that the building in her neighborhood block could not be decorated with flags because residents had complained.
Although several acquaintances from her church had emigrated, she said, she felt positive about the future of the city.
Still, Ms. Leung felt unhappy about the crackdown on freedom, especially after the closure of independent news outlets and the arrest of Cardinal Joseph Zane under National Security Act. The cardinal was the head of a legal aid organization that supported people arrested for protesting.
“If you say something wrong, you can be arrested,” she said.
Police said Sunday morning they were investigating reports of flags being damaged or stolen from Peng Shek and another nearby complex. No arrests were made, but all flags were flown on Monday morning.