San Leandro To Fly Chinese Flag Above City Hall Amid Protests

SAN LEANDRO (KPIX 5) — The San Leandro City Council approved flying the flag of the People’s Republic of China above City Hall next month, despite protests over the nation’s human rights record.

On Monday, the council voted 4-3 to fly the flag on October 1st, China’s National Day. The Chinese Consulate has said they might stop by to visit on that day.

Councilmember Benny Lee, who made the proposal, said flying the flag would help attract Chinese investors.

“The thing is, if we close our doors, basically that closes our opportunities to influence with them,” Lee told KPIX 5. “This partnership allows us to grow much quicker.”

Protesters who opposed flying the flag staged a demonstration before the meeting. An overwhelming number of speakers at the meeting commented about China’s record on human rights.

“This Chinese flag is a divisive symbol,” said Giovanni Vassallo of the Bay Area Friends of Tibet.

“I hope the elected officials of San Leandro will come to their senses and refrain from flying this Chinese flag that is stained with the blood of Tibetans, Uyghurs and Chinese,” Kunjo Tashi, president of the Tibetan Association of Northern California said.

They promised to return when the flag is raised next month.

“The Tibetan people and their allies will be protesting the raising of that bloody flag in front of city council. If they think that they heard just an earful, they’ll hear more of an earful on October 1st,” said Kala Mendoza of Students for a Free Tibet.

Other cities in the Bay Area, including San Francisco and Alameda, have held similar flag raisings in the past.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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