On Sept. 29, just days before the 70th anniversary of the communist People’s Republic of China, members of the Chinese Progressive Association of Boston brought the country’s red flag to fly over Boston’s City Plaza Square.
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Boston City Council member Ed Flynn supported the group’s celebration of the modern Chinese state, established under the rule of communist revolutionary Chairman Mao Zedong. Boston was among a number of major U.S. cities to see the pro-Chinese displays according to The Epoch Times.
The red flag, which displays a semi-circle of four yellow stars around the larger primary star, has been a symbol of China since it began its communist rule in 1949.
The display in Boston drew opposing demonstrations from Hong Kong students and members of the local Tibetan community.
Chinese Progressive Association of Boston sponsored Communist China flag-raising ceremony in Boston https://t.co/ANVHdGGFei pic.twitter.com/3NOBJCBYqT
— POX (@POXnewz) October 1, 2019
The cities of San Francisco, Calif. and Philadelphia, Penn. also flew the red flag, in apparent recognition of Oct. 1st for its significance as the anniversary of China’s communist establishment.
In turn, various local groups within those cities criticized the flying of the Chinese flag, describing it as a celebration of the Chinese government’s repressive rule. The communist Chinese state has been credited with killing tens of millions of its own citizens since its founding.
“Raising this flag, a symbol of the birth of the Chinese Communist Party on October 1, 1949 is only celebrating tyranny, repression, and death,” Jessica Russo, mental health advisor at advocacy group Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH) said in a Sept. 20 email to the Philadelphia Mayor’s office.
Russo pointed to the Chinese government’s shootings of unarmed students during the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations as an example of the Chinese government’s repressive behavior.
Russo also raised the issue of the Chinese government’s continued persecution of the various religious groups, such as the Falun Gong (also known as Falun Dafa), Uyghur Muslims, House Christians, and Tibetan Buddhists.
The Chinese government has been accused by members of Falun Gong of organ harvesting and DAFOH has sought to raise awareness of this issue.
The Greater Philadelphia Falun Dafa Association and the Tibetan Association of Philadelphia similarly raised complaints with the mayor’s office, in advance of the planned flying of the Chinese flag.
In response to the criticism, the Philadelphia Mayor’s office acknowledged the concerns raised by various opposing groups, but said the flag-raising events “are not a sign of support for any specific government, political party, or movement,” but are instead meant for “people with shared heritage to celebrate their backgrounds and experiences.”
Another Chinese flag-raising ceremony was done in the Canadian city of Toronto, but with both the objections of local groups and the Boycott of Toronto Mayor John Tory.
China’s image on the global stage has also been affected by months of protests in Hong Kong. Citizens of the semi-autonomous Hong Kong have objected to a proposal for criminal extraditions to the Chinese mainland and while the proposal was eventually withdrawn, the city has continued strict measures to suppress protests, such as a mask ban.
Police in Hong Kong have also used live ammunition against protesters.