Over the past few days, some activists in North China's Hebei and East China's Anhui provinces have protested in front of KFC fast food outlets calling for US businesses to be boycotted.
It is understandable for some Chinese to use the internet to express their indignation at the arbitration tribunal's unreasonable and absurd award against China in the South China Sea dispute case initiated by the Philippines. Even if some turns of phrases they use may have gone far beyond the sensible way of expression, they have the freedom to do so unless they put their insensible ideas into practice.
But the recent protests have interfered with the business of these restaurants, and the protesters have humiliated and harassed customers, claiming they are not being patriotic.
Instead of being patriotic, it is their jingoism that does a disservice to the spirit of devotion to the nation.
While the motivation behind the calls to boycott businesses from the United States, the Philippines or Japan may be an emotional demonstration of their love for their motherland in the face of these countries' indecent roles in the South China Sea disputes, putting a banner in front of a KFC outlet to stop other people from dining there is not just a far cry from patriotism, it also violates the law.
Patriotism is not the hotchpotch of actions that self-claimed patriots select to do. Nor can it be used as a label to provide self-justification and legal grounds for extreme actions that violate the law.
Even if some believe it necessary to express their anger at the award in the arbitration initiated by the Philippines over its dispute with China, they may apply for approval from a local public security department for an assembly, which can be organized in a peaceful manner without disrupting public order.
On the part of the government, which always says that it considers the establishment of the rule of law as being of importance to the country's governance, it needs to act according to the law to prohibit barbaric and illegal activities in the name of patriotism.
Those who organize such activities without going through the necessary procedures and unlawfully harass others in the name of patriotism should be held accountable according to the law.
This would serve to teach those, who often put their impulsive expression of emotion before the law, what the real connotations of patriotism are.