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Small group of demonstrators protest against Chinese flag at Boston City Hall

Protesters at Boston City Hall demonstrating against the Chinese flag flying over City Hall.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

A small group of demonstrators Wednesday protested against the raising of the flag of the People’s Republic of China at Boston City Hall, citing that country’s human rights abuses, including its handling of Hong Kong and its brutal treatment of Uighurs and other minorities.

Some of the two dozen or so demonstrators wielded signs that read “Justice for Tibet,” “The Chinese Communist Party is the Worst Virus!” and, rather strangely, “Fire Fauci,” in an apparent reference to America’s top infectious disease specialist, Dr. Anthony Fauci. Among the chants: “Boston stand up for human rights!”; “Shame on CCP!”; and “China lied, people died!”

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“The CCP is a criminal organization,” said Michael Tsang, a 68-year-old West Roxbury resident, referring to the Chinese Communist Party. “They kill so many people. They suppress so many people. They lie. They corrupt.”

Of the flag, Bing Ko, a physician from Andover, said, “It is a symbol of trampling human rights, it is a symbol of suppression of the minorities, it is a symbol for disregard of human liberties and human rights. It should not be in Boston.”

Anita Ng, a retiree who grew up in Hong Kong, said she wanted police brutality to stop in Hong Kong, and for Chinese authorities to be held accountable for law enforcement crackdowns in the semiautonomous territory.

“This is the land of the free,” said Ng, referencing the flag at City Hall. “How do you allow that to go up?”

Ian Ma had similar sentiments, saying he wanted China to “keep their promise” regarding Hong Kong and maintain the territory as a “symbol of place of freedom and liberty . . . and property rights.”

“They should respect that,” he said.

It was not immediately clear when the flag was raised at City Hall alongside the US and Massachusetts flags. Some in the crowd said they arrived at City Hall to protest Wednesday morning and it was already up. Thursday is China’s National Day, a holiday that marks the formation of the People’s Republic of China. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, flag-raisings at City Hall happened routinely.

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During a Wednesday news conference inside City Hall, Mayor Martin J. Walsh was asked about the protesters outside and declined to comment.

Tensions between the United States and China over Hong Kong have increased over the past year, with the United States defending prodemocracy protesters who clashed with police last year and China calling them terrorists and separatists.

Earlier this month, the United States issued a sweeping new advisory warning against travel to mainland China and Hong Kong, citing the risk of “arbitrary detention” and “arbitrary enforcement of local laws.”

In Hong Kong, China “unilaterally and arbitrarily exercises police and security power,” the advisory said, adding that new legislation also covers offenses committed by non-Hong Kong residents or organizations outside of Hong Kong, possibly subjecting US citizens who have publicly criticized China to a “heightened risk of arrest, detention, expulsion, or prosecution.”

Earlier this year, the Trump administration suspended or terminated three bilateral agreements with Hong Kong covering extradition and tax exemptions, citing Beijing’s violation of its pledge for Hong Kong to retain broad autonomy for 50 years after the former British colony’s 1997 handover to Chinese rule.

Tensions between Beijing and Washington have hit their lowest point in decades amid simmering disputes over trade, technology, Taiwan, Tibet, the South China Sea, the coronavirus pandemic and, most recently, Hong Kong. The impact of the tensions has been felt in the tit-for-tat closures of diplomatic missions as well as visa restrictions on students and journalists.

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In June, the Associated Press reported that the Chinese government is taking draconian measures to slash birth rates among Uighurs and other minorities as part of a sweeping campaign to curb its Muslim population, even as it encourages some of the country’s Han majority to have more children. The campaign over the past four years in the far west region of Xinjiang is leading to what some experts are calling a form of “demographic genocide.”

Such atrocities were also referenced by protesters at Wednesday’s demonstration outside City Hall.

Last year, the Associated Press reported on classified documents that laid out the Chinese government’s deliberate strategy to lock up ethnic minorities even before they commit a crime, to rewire their thoughts and the language they speak.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.


Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.