HONG KONG (CNA) — A Hong Kong university has launched an investigation into an incident in which the Republic of China (ROC) national flag displayed by the school’s Taiwanese students was removed and replaced by a People’s Republic of China flag.

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) said on Feb. 25 it received a complaint Saturday from the school’s Taiwanese Students Association that a stand it set up on campus to promote an election for the association’s leaders was vandalized.

The school said it had initiated an investigation into the matter in accordance with procedures and would take the issue seriously.

School administrators called on all students to adopt a rational and tolerant manner and respect others when expressing their own opinion.

The incident occurred after the Taiwanese Students’ Association set up the association election stand early last week with a ROC national flag hanging on a banner showing the associations’ title.

Later in the week, members of the association discovered that the ROC national flag had been pulled off and replaced by a People’s Republic of China flag instead.

Hsieh Yuan-jin (謝元津), a candidate for chairman of the association, said Friday on the association’s Facebook page that the stand was sabotaged the previous night.

The HKUST Students’ Union subsequently issued a statement on Saturday, condemning those who vandalized the stand’s display.

The statement said the Taiwan Students’ Association is affiliated with the HKUST Students’ Union and was formed through the general election of the union.

It was a group authorized by students at the school, and any attacks against the association, whether politically motivated or not, represented attacks against the university’s democratic system, according to the statement.

As of Monday, the school had yet to identify those involved in changing the stand’s flag.

By Stanley Cheung and Evelyn Kao