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Outrage halts town plan to fly Chinese national flag

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At the request of a Chinese-American councilman, the San Leandro, Calif., City Council voted 4-3 Monday to fly the flag of the People’s Republic of China over City Hall on Oct. 1.

That is, until the San Leandro mayor suspended the council’s decision.

The mayor has the power under the City Charter to suspend implementation of a council action within three days of the vote, according to the Contra Costa Times. The action is then reconsidered at the next regularly scheduled meeting, which is Oct. 7.

Oct. 1, known as “National Day” in China, is a day to honor the 1949 creation of the sovereign state by communist leader Mao Zedong.

Councilman Benny Lee requested that the city raise the flag to commemorate this holiday as a sign of support for local Chinese residents and as a sign the city is open for Chinese business and investment, the Contra Costa Times reported.

The decision prompted protests by Tibetan activists because of human rights abuses in China. Kunjo Tashi, president of the Tibetan Association of Northern California, told the local ABC affiliate that the Chinese flag “represents blood, blood of the Tibetans, Uighurs and the Chinese people who’ve been killed and massacred by the Chinese government.”

“San Leandro does not fly the flags of other nations at our City Hall,” Mayor Stephen Cassidy said in a statement Thursday. “We need to call a ‘time out’ and allow the community to weigh in on whether or not we should raise the flags of other governments.”

Interestingly, ABC affiliate KGO-TV reported that the Chinese flag flies over some areas of San Francisco on a regular basis and that San Francisco has raised the flag on Oct. 1, as have Oakland and Alameda.

Tom Tillison


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