XIAN, China (Reuters) – Feng Jianhan, 9, puts on his olive-colored army uniform, cap and white satin gloves each morning, and goosesteps across his living room.
Feng Jianhan, 9, poses for a picture in military uniform next to a Chinese flag that he raises every morning through rope and pulley at his home in Xian, Shaanxi province, China September 26, 2019. REUTERS/Irene Wang
As the national anthem plays in the background, he stands by a home-made pulley system, solemnly hoists the Chinese national flag and raises hand to cap in a salute.
Dubbed the “national flag baby” by Chinese media, the boy has captivated the country, appearing on videos and TV shows, especially in the run up to Communist China’s 70th anniversary on Tuesday.
“I’ve made raising the flag my daily habit,” said Feng. “Just like brushing my teeth or washing my face, you can’t not brush your teeth or wash your face.”
The boy’s father, Feng Xie, said Jianhan’s habit started when he was a toddler. Upset one day, he stopped crying when he heard China’s national anthem playing on TV during a flag-raising ceremony.
Since then, his parents have played the national anthem and shown him recordings of flag-raising ceremonies to soothe him whenever he was crying.
As Jianhan grew, he wanted to enact the flag raising ceremony in his home and asked his parents for a uniform, a flag and a pulley system to raise it.
“We didn’t know where to buy them,” his father said.
But slowly, it all came together.
Material for the uniform came from bedding sold at an army surplus market; the flag from a flag seller, and the pulley system from a construction supplies store.
The boy now has bigger dreams.
“I want to raise the flag at Tiananmen Square in Beijing,” he said, in reference to the square in the center of the nation’s capital where a daily flag raising ceremony takes place.
Reporting by Irene Wang and Huizhong Wu; Editing by Neil Fullick